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China probe faults scientist for gene-edited babies work

In this Oct. 10, 2018 photo, He Jiankui is reflected in a glass panel as he works at a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)
In this Oct. 10, 2018 photo, He Jiankui is reflected in a glass panel as he works at a computer at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong province. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)
By Marilynn Marchione Associated Press

A Chinese investigation into reports of the world’s first gene-edited babies seems to have confirmed their existence. China’s official news agency said Monday that investigators determined that the scientist acted on his own and fabricated an ethics review by others. The scientist stunned the world in November by claiming he’d altered the DNA of twin girls at conception to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus.

A Chinese investigation into reports of the world’s first gene-edited babies seems to have confirmed their existence, and investigators say the scientist responsible acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of law.

China’s official news agency said Monday that investigators in Guangdong province determined that the scientist, He Jiankui, for the sake of fame evaded supervision of his work and violated research norms. It did not say what laws or regulations he may have broken.

The scientist stunned the world in November by claiming that he had altered the DNA of twin girls at conception to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus.

The claim has been widely criticized as medically risky and unethical. A second pregnancy also reportedly is underway.

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