A leading British geneticist has condemned the Chinese researcher He Jiankui, who created the first ever gene edited twin human babies of the world, for altering lives without a proper biology training. Robin Lovell-Badge ran a conference in November last year where He Jiankui made the shocking announcement of editing embryos of 7 couples while their fertility treatment was going on.
He did so to protect the couples from contracting the deadly HIV disease which in turn led to the birth of two twin baby girls having altered DNA. In an interview with Telegraph, Lovell-Badge described He Jiankui as a rich man having a big ego and little knowledge of biology to be the first one to do something which he thinks would bring about a change in the world.
He Jiankui, a trained physicist, sparked a lot of attention towards himself when he talked about using a gene-altering technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to edit the genes of two babies who were born last year in November. He Jiankui could not be reached out to for comments on the comments made by Lovell-Badge. The matter is being seriously being looked into by Chinese authorities, who are investigating He Jiankui and have also ceased such research.
As per the video footage put up online from the conference, He said that he believed that altering the embryonic genes could help protect the twin girls from contracting HIV. Lovell-Badge, a geneticist of Francis Crick Institute located in London, had organized the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing at the Hong Kong University after hearing a few rumors of He Jiankui’s questionable work.
He, therefore, invited He Jiankui to the conference to temper his enthusiasm, which did happen. However, Lovell-Badge fails to understand what He Jiankui had done actually. Not just Lovell-Badge, but several other international scientists as well as Chinese institutions have condemned He’s work and said his practice was against the medical ethics of China.