A Chinese scientist behind the “gene-edited” babies experiment has been sentenced to three years in prison, nearly a year after Beijing said he would be punished for his questionable practice. He Jiankui announced in 2018 that he had altered the genes of twin girls, Lulu and Nana, to make them resistant to HIV.
Reports suggest that he was involved in the birth of one more gene-edited baby. While the Chinese geneticist said he “felt proud” of the breakthrough, the scientific community met the news with deep hostility, accusing Jiankui of ethics violations.
He Jiankui received three years in jail and a fine of 3 million yuan (US$430,000) on charges of illegally practicing medicine. Two of his colleagues were also handed prison sentences and fines.
The Chinese court’s verdict comes 11 months after Beijing announced that it would prosecute He for his gene-editing activities. An investigative team accused the scientists of self-funding the project to “seek personal fame.” According to the court sentence, cited by Xinhua News Agency, the scientists “deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment.”