The Chinese scientist who claims to have created the first genetically manipulated babies in the world defended his work and revealed that there is another additional pregnancy of a genetically modified embryo, but it will still be at a very preliminary stage, Reuters reports. At a conference of experts in Hong Kong, He Jiankui stressed that he is proud of his work, despite criticism from the scientific community.
Earlier this week, He Jiankui claimed to have altered the embryos of seven couples during fertility treatments, with one of the pregnancies being successful. The genetic modification has been made in two twin girls whose DNA the scientist says has changed through a technique called CRISPR / Cas9. In this case, the objective is not to cure or prevent a hereditary disease, but to try to create a capacity of resistance to a possible future infection by HIV. The announcement was not well received and the experience was considered unethical and "monstrous" by some of his peers.
Among the critical voices is the Chinese Cell Biology Society, which vehemently condemned any request for gene editing in human embryos for reproductive purposes and stated that this practice violates the country's law and medical ethics.
The University of Science and Technology of southern China, in Shenzen, where research and experience have been developed, stated that he was not aware of the scientist's work and stated that he would move forward with an investigation into the case.
The second summit on the edition of the human genome, which took place at the University of Hong Kong, counted on the audacity of 700 scientists, among them the Nobel Prize for Medicine David Baltimore, winner of the prize in 1975.
This Wednesday, in his first statements after the revelation of his work, He Jiankui also said that, initially, the investigation was financed with his money. He revealed that he submitted the research to a scientific journal, without identifying the publication.
The scientist stressed that the two twins, Lulu and Nana, "were born healthy and happy." He Jiankui said it was against "genetic improvement," but that "these people need help," adding that "we have the technology for it."
"I feel proud, I feel proud because the father [das gémeas] I had already lost hope. It's not about 'drawing babies', just a healthy child.
He Jiankui insisted that the goal of his research is not to create a baby "more intelligent, change the color of the eyes or appearance" and that it is only "maybe the only way to cure a disease."