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Chinese scientists who created ‘gene-edited’ babies imprisoned

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Three Chinese biophysicists who skirted the moral and ethical practices of their profession have been sentenced to prison after a court in Shenzhen, China, found them guilty of malpractice.

“The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment,” read the statement from the court. “They’ve crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics.”

He Jiankui, 35, led a research project that made international headlines in 2018 when his team of Chinese scientists used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-9 to perform edits on embryos. He said the goal was to create babies that were immune to HIV, and the edits resulted in three babies born from two women.

A professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, he was fined 3 million yuan on top of his sentence.

Two of He’s colleagues, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were also fined and imprisoned after being found guilty of interfering with scientific and ethical norms during their research.

The group received global backlash for the experiments, with the National Institute for Health labeling the research as “deeply disturbing.”