The research team in the Guangzhou province announced on Monday the preliminary results of the investigation triggered following the announcement of the Chinese scientist He Jiankui who last November complained that he had genetically modified the first two children, two twins . In addition to confirming the existence of children, the working group created by the Health Commission concluded that the investigator "challenged government bans" and acted in search of "fame and fortune". The university where He Jiankui was teaching and doing research has already announced that he has terminated the contract with the scientist.
"Based on the conclusion of the working group and after the deliberation," the University of Science and Technology of Southern China in Shenzhen issued a brief public statement in its website where he informs that he has decided to terminate the employment contract, with immediate effect, preventing the researcher from carrying out teaching or research activities. The Guangdong Province team concluded that He Jianku "deliberately avoided overseeing their work, raised funds and organized a group of self-researchers to perform the genetic assembly of human embryos to be bred, which is explicitly prohibited", He said. Xinhua State Press Agency.
He Jiankui, an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology, said in November 2018 that the first genetically engineered children in the world were born with their help, adding that their DNA was altered to prevent them from contracting. HIV. The investigation of his work was announced almost immediately and the first results are now known. The team will have confirmed that the scientist started his project in June 2016 with a team that included some "foreign members" and that "led the editing of genes using technologies without guarantees of safety and effectiveness".
With a false certificate of ethical approval, He Jiankui was able to recruit eight couples of volunteers (the men were seropositive, the women were seropositive). The experiments took place between March 2017 and November 2018. The working group confirms two pregnant women, one who gave birth to twins Lulu and Nana and one who is still pregnant. One couple gave up this experience halfway and five other couples simply could not conceive.
"The activities have seriously violated ethical principles and scientific integrity and have violated the relevant regulations of China, according to the investigation," reads the statement, adding that those responsible "will be punished according to laws and regulations" without to specify . Regarding children and pregnant women, it is also said that they will receive all medical care and observations through regular follow-up visits.
In an immediate reaction to these conclusions, the university has already announced the termination of the contract with the researcher. When He Jiankui announced that he had helped bring forth the first genetically modified children at the end of November, he caused a roar of criticism from experts around the world. In addition to many other objections, the scientists' concern was primarily about ethical and procedural security issues.
"I hope the report will serve as an example of appropriate legal and punitive actions to reassure the scientific and public community," said Yalda Jamshidi, a UK University of London geneticist, cited by Reuters. From the moment he announced he was proud of the results, He Jiankui never appeared publicly or clarified this topic.