Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, who In 2018, revealed to the world that he edited babies’ gene using the CRISPR/Cas9 system has been sentenced to three years in prison by Chinese authorities. The Stanford-trained scientist, and two of his colleagues faced a secrete trial in China.
He Jiankui and his associates were convicted of “illegal medical practice” for carrying out human embryo gene editing “for reproductive purposes,” following a report by China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese authorities in addition to the three years jail term fined He Jiankui the sum of 3 million yuan ($429,000) and be banned from reproductive medical practice for life. The Chinese scientist co-workers, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were also slammed prison terms of two years and 18 months each, in addition to fines and bans.
There were ten authors on the scientific paper which was released by the team, but it wasn’t mentioned clearly if others will be penalized too.
According to the judgement, He and his colleagues conspired in 2016 to edit the CCR5 gene in a way that will make humans resistant to HIV virus. The team helped with the reproduction for “multiple couples of HIV-infected persons,” following a Xinhua report.
After they edited the embryos, they were implanted into two women, who lated gave birth to three gene-edited babies. The experiment saw first Chinese authorities’ acknowledgement of the presence of a third gene-edited baby.
The court said that the gene editing system is yet to be “verified for safety and effectiveness,” also adding that they forged documents to convince patients and doctors to comply to the process.
According report, He Jiankui and his team of Chinese scientist lied to patients that they were part of an AIDS vaccine trial, not genetic editing. Immediately He revealed the CRISPR experiment, experts condemned it as “unconscionable” and “immoral and unethical.” Soon afterwards, Chinese authorities opened an investigation and eventually detained He his action.