A Chinese scientist who claims to have created the world's first genetically modified child has defended his work.
Speaking about the Genome Summit in Hong Kong, he told Jiankai that he was proud to transform the two girls' genes so they could not get HIV.
His work, which he announced this week, has not been approved.
Many scholars have condemned their statement. Such genetic editing is prohibited in most countries, including China.
Prof. He is a university – Southern Science and Technology University in Shenzhen – said he did not know about a research project and began an investigation. He said he had been unpaid since February.
Prof. He confirmed that the university was not informed, adding that he himself financed the experiment himself.
What did the scientist say?
Prof. He announced this week that he had changed the DNA of embryos – twin girls – to prevent HIV.
Wednesday Prof. He first appeared at the Hong Kong University's Human Genome editing session on his work from here.
He discovered that twin girls, known as Lulu and Nana, were "born normal and healthy," adding that twins are to be monitored in the next 18 years.
He explained that eight couples consisting of HIV positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers voluntarily signed the experiment; later a couple left.
Prof. He also said the study was presented in a scientific journal for review, although he did not come up with a magazine.
He also said that the gene-edited embryo was "another potential pregnancy" at an early stage.
But he apologizes that his study "was unexpectedly leaked," and added: "The clinical trial was stopped because of the current situation."
Why is it controversial?
The Crispr gene-editing tool, which he claims to have used, is not new to science in the world and was first revealed in 2012.
It works using "molecular scissors" to change a very specific DNS string – by cutting, changing or adjusting it.
Gene editing could potentially help avoid inherited illnesses by deleting or changing the disturbing encoding of the embryo.
- What is Crispr?
- Crispr: Human embryos and ethical issues
But experts worried about interfering with the embryo genome can be detrimental not only to the individual, but also to future generations who inherited the same change.
Prof. He recently criticized other scholars widely.
Hundreds of Chinese scholars also signed a letter on social media condemning the study, stating that they have "strongly" opposed it.
Gene's editing itself is experimental and is still associated with adjacent target mutations that can cause genetic problems sooner and later in life, including cancer, "Professor Julian Savulescu, an ethics expert at Oxford University , said the BBC.
"This experiment reveals the risks to genetic editing for healthy normal children, which has no real benefit."
In many countries, including the United Kingdom, there are laws that impede the use of human reproductive aids in embryonic reproduction genomes.
Scientists can carry out gene-tracking studies of discarded IVF embryos if they are immediately destroyed and not used to form a baby.
Prof. He's an experiment under Chinese law is banned, Siu Nanping, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, told the national media.
China allows for in-vitro human embryonic stem cell research for a maximum of 14 days, explained Xu.