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NIH Director Says There’s Work to Do on Regulating Genome Editing Globally

By December 11, 2018No Comments

 The apparent birth this month of the first genetically modified babies is “a lesson in the potential for human hubris to overtake us,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told STAT Thursday, but he said there is little U.S. officials can do to influence how China sanctions the rogue scientist who claims to have led the ethically dubious scientific breakthrough.

Collins said he was glad to see that Chinese authorities on Thursday suspended the researcher’s work, which they deem illegal, and said they were launching an investigation. “I welcome their announcement that they will not be allowing other experiments of this sort at this time, and that there will be consequences for people who break this law,” he said in his first interview since the news of the births roiled the worldwide scientific community.

Chinese researcher He Jiankui announced Sunday that he had used the genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the DNA of human embryos — a procedure, known as germline editing, that results in changes to the genome that would be inherited by future generations. The embryos were used to produce twin girls. He has since admitted to starting a second pregnancy with edited embryos.