Skip to Content
Biotechnology

A second CRISPR pregnancy is already under way, claims Chinese scientist

November 28, 2018

A woman is already pregnant with the next CRISPR baby, according to He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who claims to have already created the world’s first genetically edited babies.

Bombshell: He made the claim about the early-stage pregnancy on the second day of an international gene-editing summit at the University of Hong Kong. “There is another one, another potential pregnancy,” he said on stage. He defended his work, saying he feels “proud” to have used gene-editing techniques to make the twin girls HIV resistant. “This is not just for this case, but for millions of children. They need this protection. [An] HIV vaccine is not available,” he said.

Irresponsible: After his presentation, He was quizzed by audience members about his work. Nobel laureate David Baltimore said that proceeding with germ-line editing in this way was “irresponsible” and criticized He for not being more open. “I think there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community because of the lack of transparency,” he said. It also emerged that none of He’s presentation slides had contained information about the implanted embryos—or the babies—when they were submitted to the conference organizers.

Consent: Many of the questions from attendees revolved around the consent process. He said he had taken the volunteers through a 20-page document line by line and insisted they gave “informed consent” and “already understood quite well about the gene-editing technology and the potential effects and benefits.” He claimed to have paid for the entire process, besides some sequencing costs covered by startup funding at his university, the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen (which has denied all knowledge of his work on the twins).

Background: It was only three days ago that MIT Technology Review revealed that work to create CRISPR babies was already under way. He’s work has been condemned by Chinese academics, and the Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board has since said it would begin an investigation of his research.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

transplant surgery
transplant surgery

The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus

The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.

Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research
Muhammad bin Salman funds anti-aging research

Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging

The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.