First Genetically Engineered Babies Announced by Researcher in China

A researcher in China announced his lab made the first genetically engineered babies. Scientist He Jiankui says he used CRISPR to alter the DNA of twin girls, to provide resistance to possible future HIV infection.

“Two beautiful little Chinese girls, named Lulu and Nana, came crying into this world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago,” He Jiankui announced in a YouTube video. “The girls are home now with their mom, Grace, and dad, Mark.”


In the US it’s not allowed outside of lab research and China outlaws human cloning but not human gene editing specifically.

Couples were recruited from a Beijing AIDS advocacy group. The men in the project had HIV and the women did not, but the gene editing was not to prevent the small risk of transmission.

Many scientists have expressed concern about CRISPR technology being abused, He Jiankui explains his own views in the video, “Gene surgery should remain a technology for healing. Enhancing IQ or selecting hair or eye color is not what a loving parent does. That should be banned. I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology and I am willing to take the criticism.”



Image: “DNA-Double-Helix through an electron microscope” by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann is licensed under CC BY 2.0