His revelations have sparked a robust debate over the ethical boundaries of genetic editing and prompted calls for stricter regulation amid fears that the world could be moving closer to producing designer babies.
On Wednesday, He said he has submitted his work to a scientific journal for review, without identifying the publication.
"I think we still need to understand the motivation for the study and what the process was for informed consent", said Jennifer Doudna, a co-inventor of the CRISPR gene-editing tool, who watched He speak. "Progress over the last three years and the discussions at the current summit, . suggest that it is time to define a rigorous, responsible. pathway toward such trials", said Baltimore, a Nobel-prize winning USA biologist.
The researcher, He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen, revealed the possible pregnancy Wednesday while making his first public comments about his controversial work at an global conference in Hong Kong. The Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board also plans to investigate.
Scientists can do gene editing research on discarded IVF embryos, as long as they are destroyed immediately afterwards and not used to make a baby. He added that using technology to help people with genetic diseases is "compassion".
"I disagree with the notion of stepping out of the general consensus of the scientific community", Stanford University ethicist William Hurlbut tells the AP.
This kind of interference with human embryos is banned in the USA because the implications of altered genetic traits passed on to future generations have not yet been studied.
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"I challenged him at every level, and I don't approve of what he did", said Hurlbut.
Robin Lovell-Badge, a professor of genetics and embryology at the Francis Crick Institute in London who moderated the session, asked a question that he said was on many attendees' minds. "I think he acted irresponsibly".
Dr. Matthew Porteus, a genetics researcher at Stanford University, where He did postdoctoral research, said He told him in February that he meant to try human gene editing.
Those accusations aside, He's project appears to be the work of an unsupervised lab that took great pains to avoid proper channels, such as failing to file the clinical trial to the country's registry until early November, which was around the same time the twin girls were born.
Beijing simultaneously warned that He's gene-editing activities may have broken the law and ordered an investigation.
More than 100 scientists, most in China, said in an open letter on Tuesday that the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to edit the genes of human embryos was risky, unjustified and harmed the reputation and development of the biomedical community in China.
In a latest scientific and technological breakthrough, a Chinese scientist has claimed that he has successfully altered the DNA of twin girls at an embryonic stage, girls who were finally born earlier this month in China.