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China convicts researchers who created gene-edited HIV resistant babies

A researcher who helped create the world’s first HIV resistant gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Ali Taghva Montreal, QC

A researcher who helped create the world’s first HIV resistant gene-edited babies has been sentenced to three years in prison.

He Jiankui, the scientist who created twin girls in 2018 with modified DNA which made them resistant to HIV, was sentenced to three years in prison alongside a 3 million yuan fine on Monday, according to China’s state news agency.

Before his arrest, He was an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. He claimed that a second woman was also pregnant as a result of his work. While He’s researched represented a potential leap forward in gene editing, his peers condemned him for “unethical” practice.

While He Jiankui led the effort, two other medical researchers were also put behind bars. Zhang Renli received a two-year sentence and a one million yuan fine, while Qin Jinzhou received a suspended one-year sentence, six months in prison, alongside a 500,000 yuan fine.

All three have also been banned from engaging in human-assisted reproductive technology services for life.

According to China’s state broadcaster, all three defendants pleaded guilty in trials that were closed to the public.

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Ali Taghva
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