Chinese scientist sent to prison for altering babies' genes to make them immune to HIV


A Chinese scientist, He Jiankui who created the world’s first “gene-edited” babies has been handed a 3-year jail term.
The scientist who is also an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen first stirred up global outrage in November 2018 after admitting that he used gene-editing technology known as Crispr-Cas9 to alter the genes of twin girls to protect them from getting infected with AIDS in the future.
He has been detained under armed guard at a university guesthouse since he first communicated his work to the world at the international gene editing conference, alongside major interviews with Western media.
The Chinese scientist who along with his collaborators illegally fashioned ethical review materials and recruited men with AIDS who were part of a couple to carry out the gene-editing, was suspended from his job and accused of work that was “extremely abominable in nature”.
He Jiankui who followed through the gene-editing process on seven embryos in late 2018, was found guilty of illegal practice along with two others and he was fined 3m yuan (US$430,000).
It was reported by State news agency Xinhua  that Zhang Renli who worked with Jiankui was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1m yuan. His other associate, Qin Jinzhou, on the other hand received an 18-month sentence, but with a two-year reprieve and a 500,000 yuan fine.
In the court's words;
“The three accused did not have the proper certification to practise medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment.
“They’ve crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics,” they further added.
During the sentencing, it was also noted that a third baby from a different mother to the twins, was born as part of the project before it was shut down by the authorities. From an original research published earlier this month by the MIT Technology Review, it was found that he may not have exactly succeeded in replicating the gene that makes some people HIV resistant.

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