The scientist is slated to speak at a session on human embryo editing at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing on Wednesday in Hong Kong.
The group's pioneer that shares the namesake of the editing technology has enrolled its first patient in a European study and recently opened enrollment in the USA for patients with severe sickle cell disease in trials with partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
The Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, where He is employed (currently on leave from February 2018 to January 2021), has distanced itself from the researcher and will form an independent worldwide committee to investigate the widely publicized, controversial research.
Gene editing is a potential fix for heritable diseases but it is extremely controversial because the changes would be passed down to future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool.
Mr. He made his announcement Sunday in a YouTube video.
However, one well-known geneticist, Harvard University's George Church, defended the attempt to edit genes to prevent infections of HIV.
He recruited HIV-positive heterosexual couples who wanted to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, to participate in the work through an AIDS advocacy group.
But not all researchers joined wholeheartedly in condemning the use of CRISPR editing on human embryos. The experiment, which is banned in the United States due to the possibility of these genetic changes affecting future generations, would be the first of its kind ever reported. The human genome is a series of messages encoded by DNA.
Could gene editing ever be ethical?
Qiu said a lack of regulation mean that scientists often face no punishments as they are only required to abide by the rules of their institutions, which may not stipulate punishments for misconduct. Scientists then must create a corresponding fragment that will bind to this region.
"Gene surgery is and should remain a technology for healing". Or, with the help of scientists, specific messages can be inserted at this site which alter the message of that gene.
In this October 9, 2018 photo, Zhou Xiaoqin, left, loads Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA molecules into a fine glass pipette as Qin Jinzhou watches at a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province.
What was allegedly done in this experiment?
If He's claims are true, the twins would pass the altered DNA on to any offspring they have, which several scientists said would create a host of ethical and medical problems. One twin, according to He's tests, showed signs that both copies of the CCR5 gene it inherited (one from its mother and one from its father) were successfully altered, while the other twin showed that one version of the gene it inherited was altered.
"While completely unsubstantiated, the reports today of the birth of the first genome- edited babies are hugely alarming".
Experts fear altering the embryo could cause harm to the individual and future generations.
A leader of the worldwide conference on gene editing said He's work showed a failure of self-regulation among scientists.
But not all local researchers are opposed to his potentially groundbreaking work.
Many scientists have stated that Dr.
It was clear from He's interview with AP, that He knew what he was getting himself into. It's not known if the pregnancy referred to was carried to term, is ongoing, or was terminated.
"The University was deeply shocked by this event and has taken immediate action to reach [He] for clarification", the release said, adding that He's "previous affiliation, the Department of Biology (hereafter the Department) called an emergency meeting of the Department Academic Committee".
"I think this was irresponsible", Musunuru said.
"For this case, I feel proud".
In defence of his work, He earlier said that the modification work might not be applicable for the general public, but that it would valuable to help a few affected and very high-risk families.