The scientist announced in November 2018 that he had edited the genes of twins to be resistant to HIV, ‘cutting and pasting’ their DNA
A Shenzhen city court on Monday sentenced Chinese scientist He Jiankui to three years in prison for genetically editing human embryos. Jiankui will also have to pay a fine of three million yuan (almost $ 430,000 or € 384,000), according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
The scientist announced in November 2018 that he had edited the genes of twins to be resistant to HIV, but Xinhua has added that three genetically modified babies were born from the experiment. I have specified that he used the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic editing technology, which allows scientists to basically cut and paste DNA.
The National Health Commission of China said it was “very concerned” and ordered the health authorities to investigate the case. “We have to be responsible for the health of the people and we will act on this according to the law,” he said in a statement.
For its part, the University of Science and Technology of the South of Shenzhen, where He has an associate chair, said he knew nothing about the project and that the researcher was on leave without pay since last February.
“I understand that my work will be controversial, but I think families need this technology. And I am willing to accept criticism for them”, the scientist argued.