(Yicai Global) Jan. 22 -- Results from the official preliminary investigation into He Jiankui, who created two gene-edited babies immune to human immunodeficiency virus, show that the professor broke the law in the pursuit of personal gain.
From 2016, He circumvented supervision and set up a team of foreign researchers who used potentially unsafe technologies to edit human embryos for reproduction, which is banned by Chinese law, state-owned news agency Xinhua cited the investigation team as saying.
The team claimed to have birthed the world's first genetically modified babies in November last year, sparking debate over the ethics of gene editing. Guangdong province, where He's employer the Southern University of Science and Technology is based, began investigating the incident shortly after.
He recruited eight couples, each comprising a HIV-positive male and HIV-negative female, to volunteer in the experiment from March 2017 to November last year after forging ethical reviews, the investigators said, adding that he sidestepped regulation preventing HIV carriers from taking part in assisted reproduction by using substitute volunteers for blood tests.
He then ordered his team to edit the genes of human embryos and implant them into the female volunteers, two of who became pregnant, with one giving birth to the twin baby girls Lulu and Nana. One of the couples withdrew from the experiment and the five remaining women did not become pregnant.
Those involved will be dealt with in line with the law, and anybody suspected of committing a criminal offense will be handed over to the police, the report added. Guangdong plans to work with relevant parties to observe and conduct follow-up checks on the babies and remaining pregnant volunteer under the guidance of state departments, the head of the investigation team said.
Editor: James Boynton