Chinese scientist He Jiankui defended Thursday the effectiveness of his experiment with which he claims to have created the first genetically modified babies in the world to be resistant to certain diseases such as HIV.
I spoke during an intervention at the second conference on Human Genome Edition at the University of Hong Kong, where he claimed to be "proud" of his work and revealed, according to the BBC, that "another potential pregnancy" of modified embryos is at an early stage of development. Although these claims, as the British media has pointed out, have not been verified independently.
The scientist pointed out that He has experimented with seven couples, with one of their members infected with HIV. "The study has given effective results and has been delivered for review in the scientific community," he said.
I have –who acknowledged that his experiment was not endorsed by any official institution – argued that the supposedly genetically edited twins, Lulu and Nana, "were born healthy and happy," thanks to in vitro fertilization with genetic modification technology "that will prevent them from becoming infected with The hiv".
He also justified the use of the CRISPR / Cas9 gene editing technique and stressed that the experiment was not aimed at eliminating genetic diseases, "but rather" to give girls the natural ability to resist a possible future HIV infection. "
"These people need help and we have the technology," he said, noting that the parents were informed of the risks involved in the experiment and showed their consent.
"Although there has been progress in HIV therapies, new infections remain a problem for many countries, especially the least developed," he added.
Also, the scientist thanked the University of Science and Technology of the South of the city of Shenzhen with which he worked, "although they did not know" what he was doing.
The university has opened an investigation
Last Monday the university announced that will investigate the scientistor to determine if your experience violated the laws or their regulations.
The university said it felt "deeply shocked by the case," which it called "a serious violation of ethics and academic standards."
That same day more than 120 academics from the Chinese scientific community said in a statement issued on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that "any attempt" to make changes in human embryos through genetic modifications is "crazy" and that giving giving birth to these babies carries "a high risk."
Globally, Magazine Nature also joined this same Thursday to the debate and in an article where he argues that the announcement has caused "outrage" among the international scientific community and that, if true, "would represent a significant leap in the use of human genome modification" .