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Friday, January 17, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gene-editing scientist under scrutiny by Chinese officials

In this Oct. 10, 2018 photo, He Jiankui speaks during an interview at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)
In this Oct. 10, 2018 photo, He Jiankui speaks during an interview at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)
By Christina Larson Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A scientist who claimed he helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies is now under investigation by Chinese government bodies and by his own university.

He Jiankui says his lab used the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter human embryos – leading to the births of twin girls earlier this month.

There is not yet independent confirmation of his claim, but scientists and regulators have condemned the experiment.

The National Health Commission has ordered local officials to investigate his actions.

China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, reports that if the births are confirmed, his case will be handled “in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.” It’s not clear if he could face possible criminal charges.

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