At the conference, whose organizers included Jennifer Doudna, one of the inventors of the Crispr technology, Dr. He gave a careful talk about something that other attendees fully considered in the field of ethically approved research, said one of the attendees, Dr. Fyodor Urnov, deputy director of the Altius Institute of Biomedical Sciences and visiting researcher at the Institute of Innovative Genomics at the University of California, Berkeley.
"If you listen to his speech, it is a step by step very cautious, thoughtful step," said Dr. Urnov. "He presented the embryonic edition of CCR₅. I was presenting the talk to colleagues, professional gene publishers who know that the field is moving fast, so frankly, the atmosphere in the room was, I do not want to say bored, but it was, of course, you & # 39; ; I have built over ten years of progress. "
"What we now know is that while he was speaking, there was a woman in China who had twins," said Dr. Urnov. "He had the opportunity to say," Oh and by the way, I'm just going to come out and say it, people, there's a woman who wears cufflinks ".
He did not "I would never play poker against Dr. He," Dr. Urnov said.
Richard Hynes, a cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was one of the leaders of an advisory group on human gene editing for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, said that group and an organization similar in Britain had determined that if human genes were to be edited, the procedure should only be done to address "serious unmet needs in medical treatment, had to be well monitored, had to be followed well, full consent had to be in his place. "
It is not clear why alter the genes to make people resistant to H.I.V. it is "a serious need not satisfied". Men with H.I.V. Do not infect embryos. Your semen contains the virus that causes AIDS, which can infect women, but the virus can be washed from its sperm before insemination. Or a doctor can inject a single sperm into an egg. In any case, the woman will not get infected and the babies will not.
Dr. He obtained his Ph.D, from Rice University, in physics and his postdoctoral training, at Stanford, was with Stephen Quake, professor of bioengineering and applied physics who works on DNA sequencing, not editing.
Experts said that using Crispr would actually be easy enough for someone like Dr. He.
After arriving in Shenzhen in 2012, Dr. He, at the age of 28, established a DNA sequencing company, Direct Genomics, and scored Dr. Quake on his advisory board. But, in a telephone interview on Monday, Dr. Quake said he was never associated with the company.
–Austin Ramzy contributed reports from Hong Kong and Elsie Chen contributed research from Beijing.