It was last year when a Scientist from China amazed the world by creating firs genetically edited babies using the tool named CRISPR/Cas9. However, the scientist He Jiankui and his two fellows have been sentenced to prison for a period of 3 years after a trial in China. The trial was kept secret and we do not have many details about the trial.
According to the case details, the researchers were involved in “illegal medical practice” which is performing human embryo gene editing for reproductive purposes. The Chinese state-run Xinhua reported.
The court has also imposed 3 million Yuan ($429,000) fine on the scientists and banned them for producing reproductive medicine for life. Jiankui’s coworkers Zhang Renli and Win Jinzhou are also convicted and given prison sentences of two years and 18 months respectively, apart from fines and bans for life.
The scientific research paper released by the team also includes 7 more authors and contributors, however, it’s not clear yet the other participants in the research process would receive any sentences of fines. As the trial was kept and proceeded secretly, we only get a version of Chinese state sources about the trial and none of the other sources reported the details of the trial.
The judgment states that Jiankui and his teammates conspired in 2016 to edit the CCR5 gene in a way it could resist the HIV Aids virus. The team tested the research on multiple couples who were affected by the HIV virus. The team first edited the embryos and then implanted into two women, those women eventually gave birth to three gene-edited babies.
According to the court, the gene-editing technique is not currently verified for safety and effectiveness hence, conducting such experiments without proper permission from the authorities makes it illegal and dangerous to humans. The team also mislead the people involved in the experiments and were told that they have been tested for the HIV vaccine and not the genetic modifications. Experts also condemned the act as immoral, unethical and risky. Chinese authorities probed the case earlier and finally, the man behind this genetic modification is sentenced to prison along with fines and bans.