Chinese scientist vanishes after claiming to have made first gene-edited babies

The controversial scientist He Jiankui is currently missing after causing major controversy in late November.

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  • He Jiankui caused international controversy by claiming to have used the CRISPR gene-editing tool to modify the genes of two babies.
  • Some reports suggested he was being held under house arrest, though others say that's inaccurate.
  • It's not unusual for people to disappear in China at the hands of government authorities.
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CRISPR co-inventor responds to claim of first gene-edited babies

Big Think expert Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a professor at UC Berkeley and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, issued a statement responding to a scientist's recent claim that he helped create the world's first genetically edited babies.

  • On Sunday, a Chinese scientist claimed the world's first genetically edited babies had been born in China.
  • The scientist claims to have used gene-editing technology on the babies' embryos.
  • Dr. Doudna said scientists should confine "the use of gene editing in human embryos to cases where a clear unmet medical need exists."
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Image: Biswarup Ganguly
  • The eggs contain an antiviral protein called human interferon beta.
  • This protein is known to combat some forms of cancer and other conditions.
  • The unusual technique could one day provide cheaper and more effective treatments.
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When genomics lets us design our children, how can we keep it fair for all?

Granted, genetic manipulation has been a dream for decades. Here’s what is different now.

Learning childcare at Beijing's Nanny University. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

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Cars Parts Show Us How Some Genetic Stats Mislead

We can “read” genes with ease now, but still can’t say what most of them “mean.” To show why we need clearer “causology” and fitter metaphors, let's scrutinize cars and their parts like we do bodies and genes.

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

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