In 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankou shocked the world. He was found guilty for genetically modifying children. The scientist used CRISPR to work with the genetic code (DNA) of IVF embryos, which led to the birth of twins, who are the world’s first genetically modified humans. His actions caused a huge scandal in the scientific community and outraged ethics experts and regulators. Jiankui was pointed out as a person who made serious ethical lapses and could not bear the title of a scientist.
In light of the scandal, Chinese authorities have decided to arrest the scientist. He also lost his position as a researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology in China. However, his stay in prison did not last long. According to the MIT Technology Review, He Jiankou has already been released from prison. He even answered a short phone call. He told MIT Tech: “I’m not able to talk right now.”
Unfortunately, the situation is not entirely clear, as is usually the case with the Chinese government. It is unclear what he will do next. According to the source, this indignation has shocked the “idealistic, naive and ambitious” scientist. In fact, during his experiments, he believed that he would receive the Nobel Prize for them. He went as far as to decide to sell his technology. As a result, he reportedly had “preliminary talks” to set up a designer children’s clinic in either China or Switzerland. However, for obvious reasons, negotiations did not happen.
There are some unanswered questions about working with the DNA. There are also many ethical reasons that prevent scientists from immersing themselves in these waters. Scientists are still trying to figure out how the genetic codes work. However, it is still shocking that someone successfully took and changed the baby’s DNA. Despite ethical concerns, He Jiankou will, of course, stay away from this business for a long time. It may be a conspiracy theory, but there is a good chance that governments or even biotech companies will try to study and replicate his methods.
We see many advances in the tech, and some of them are even related to biology. However, when it comes to changing human DNA, there are still many obstacles.