He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who was behind the creation of the world’s very first gene-edited babies has been sentenced for 3 years in prison by a Chinese court. The court said in their verdict that the team of researchers led by He Jiankui crossed the bottom lines of ethics in their practice. In addition to this prison sentence, He Jiankui was also fined with a sum of 4 million Yuan which is about 430000 dollars.
He Jiankui was given this sentience along with his 2 closest researchers and colleagues. One of them is named Zhang Renli who was fined 1 million Yuan with a prison sentence of 2 years while the other is named Qin Jinzhou who was fined for 500000 Yuan with a prison sentence for 18 months along with 2 years to be spent in reprieve.
The words of the court, which were then reported by a state news agency called Xinhua, “The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment.”
He Jiankui has been found to have helped to develop the very first of the world’s genetically edited babies, who were twin girls named Lula and Nana back in November of 2018. They were both created with the help of a gene-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9. This kind of gene editing work has been banned in the US as well as other countries following the ethical concerns like manipulation of human embryos and the risk hey will cause to the other genes that can lead to unintentional side effects that could very well affect the future human population.
The scientific community in China was critical of this work and He Jiankui was thus fired from his job at the Southern University of Science and Technology located in Shenzhen.
a genome-editing scientist working at the University of California named Fyodor Urnov, said in response to this research, “The claim they have reproduced the prevalent CCR5 variant is a blatant misrepresentation of the actual data and can only be described by one term: a deliberate falsehood.”