Chinese scientist responsible for DESIGNER BABIES is facing DEATH PENALTY (Image: GETTY)
THE Chinese scientist who allegedly gene edited babies towards the end of last year could be facing the DEATH PENALTY in his native country, according to his counterparts.
He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, China, caused global outcry in November, 2018, when he claimed he helped make the world’s first genetically modified human beings: twin girls whose DNA he said he altered. The controversial scientist used the gene editing tool, CRISPR, to create “genetically modified” human babies by eliminating CCR5 to make the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox and cholera. The result was met by public backlash, who deemed the experiment immoral, with many claiming it could lead to so-called “designer babies”.
Now, however, things have taken a much more sinister turn in the ongoing saga after reports suggest he could face the death penalty for gene editing.
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, who organised the November 2018 event in Hong Kong where Mr He presented his supposed breakthrough, says the Chinese scientists is facing corruption charges – which carries with it the death penalty in China.
Professor Lovell-Badge said at a conference: All the reports suggest he is an university owned apartment and there are a quite a number of guards.
“It’s not clear whether he’s under guard, meaning house arrest or the guards are there to protect him. I suspect both.
“There is an official investigation led by the ministries of science and health. Lots of people are probably going to lose their jobs, he wasn’t the only one involved in this obviously.
“So how has he got them to do all this work? He could be had up on all sorts of charges of corruption and being guilty of corruption in China these days is not something you want to be.