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Chinese ministry to investigate gene-edited babies claim

Updated: Nov 28,2018 4:41 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China’s Ministry of Science and Technology will cooperate with other departments to investigate the claim that the world’s first gene-edited babies have been created.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is highly concerned and called an emergency meeting on Nov 26 after a Chinese researcher claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies, said Xu Nanping, vice-minister of science and technology, on Nov 27 at a media event.

Xu said that the ministry was following the case closely and would seriously deal with it after clarification.

The vice-minister noted that China limits in vitro human embryonic stem cell research to a maximum of 14 days, according to ethical guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the former Ministry of Health in 2003.

He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, claimed on Nov 26 to have altered the DNA of twin girls born a few weeks ago to prevent them from contracting HIV. It has triggered heated debate in the scientific community and on social media.