A Chinese researcher who recently created World’s first genetically tweaked babies has been sentenced 3 years in prison along with a life-long ban from working in the field of Reproductive Technology.
The 35 year old He Jiankui and his research were condemned by people all across the world when he revealed the findings last year. Along with the 3 years terms he will have to complete in prison, He Jiankui is also handed a fine of 3 Million Yuan (around $ 430,000) according to the verdict of a court cited by the Xinhua News Agency.
He was assisted by two follow researchers in this experiment and has also been handed individual prison sentences. Zhang Renli, researcher at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital has been given a prison sentence of 2 years, whereas the third one, Qin Jinzhou, who is a researcher at the Shenzhen Luohu Hospital Group, has been sentenced to 18 months of jail term.
Ever since China and He faced backlash from the world on He’s experiment China remained mum and this was the first time China has spoken on it. He had also run away from public’s view soon after the criticism started coming in. The international scientific community condemned his work to edit the genes of the embryos in order to make them resistant to virus that causes AIDS. Scientists all around the globe said that it was an abuse of the new gene-engineering techniques which are not explored to an extent where they contemplate what will happen.
He’s experiment took place in almost secrecy and was only revealed when the twin baby girls were born, this also caused China to face major backlash over the concerns that the country is not regulating its ambitious scientists as China wants to become the leader in science and medicine in the world and will go to any extent for it.
The report shared by Xinhua said that for the experiment conducted by He, he recruited couple who were diagnosed with HIV and wanted children where their offspring did not have HIV. In the experiment two women conceived children and gene was edited of 3 children who were born. The reason why the trial was not made public was to protect the identity of the parents and their children.
The report also said that the Court had found He and his two fellow researchers guilty of forging ethical review documents along with using “impersonating and concealing tactics” on the unsuspecting doctors in order to complete their research.
As this experiment brought China amidst controversies, the country earlier last year said that it will now keep a strict eye on clinical trials which involves gene editing and other research and experiments on Life Science Technologies. From now, if any individual or group of researchers want to work on any such field will have to take prior approval from the highest level of Government officials.