Page URL:

China approves ethics advisory group almost a year after CRISPR scandal

12 August 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1010

China has approved a national research ethics committee to advise its government, following the 'CRISPR-babies' scandal last year.

The country's policymaking body gave the go-ahead last month, according to an article in Nature News. The Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, will set up a national committee. The move was prompted by the international furore over the announcement last November by Dr He Jiankui, then at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, that he had created the world's first genome-edited babies (see BioNews 977).

Little detail has been released on how the new committee will work, but it will aim to 'strengthen the coordination and implementation of a comprehensive and consistent system of ethics governance for science and technology'.

Professor Qiu Renzong, a bioethicist at the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing, said it could help identify and close regulatory 'loopholes'.

Biomedical research in humans currently falls under China's National Health Commission, while most other bioethical issues including research in animals is regulated by the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

A review by Guangdong's health ministry in January found that Dr He had faked an ethical review certificate. According to bioethicists, the informed consent that Dr He gained from the volunteer couples in his study was also invalid, said Nature.

A 'small circle of trust' internationally knew of or suspected what Dr He was doing, said Ryan Ferrell, hired by Dr He as a public relations specialist. He told Science that this circle included about five dozen people.

Dr He's revelation last year prompted outcry among the scientific community, with some branding him as a 'rogue scientist'. Geneticist Professor George Church at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was not in the 'circle', told Science: 'He had an awful lot of company to be called a "rogue".'

China approves ethics advisory group after CRISPR-babies scandal
Nature |  8 August 2019
Disgraced CRISPR scientist had plans to start a designer-baby business
MIT Technology Review |  1 August 2019
The untold story of the 'circle of trust' behind the world's first gene-edited babies
Science |  1 August 2019
3 February 2020 - by Dr Patrick Foong 
Dr He Jiankui, who claimed that the world's first babies had been born with edited genomes, has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined for performing 'illegal medical practices'...
13 January 2020 - by Julian Hitchcock 
'Three babies, three scientists, three years in jail, and a three million yuan fine. This is the story of Dr He Jiankui and the world's first genome edited babies', wrote the philosopher Françoise Baylis in last week's Boston Globe....
6 January 2020 - by Dr Laura Riggall 
Professor He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created the world’s first genome-edited babies, has been sentenced to three years in prison for violating medical regulations...
16 December 2019 - by Ana Hallgarten 
Human Nature, directed by Adam Bolt is a documentary aimed at educating a wide audience about genome editing and the discovery and possible uses of CRISPR...
9 December 2019 - by Jakki Magowan 
The MIT Technology Review has released excerpts of unpublished research from Dr He Jiankui's manuscript that ignored ethical and scientific norms when creating the world's first gene-edited twins...
8 July 2019 - by Dr Melanie Krause 
For the first time, US researchers have used a combination of genome editing and antiretroviral therapy to eliminate HIV from mice...
8 July 2019 - by Shaoni Bhattacharya 
A Russian scientist who announced his intention to create genome-edited babies last month, has now revealed details of his plan...
1 July 2019 - by Dr Yvonne Collins 
The US patent office has declared an 'interference' - re-opening the long-running dispute between the University of California (UC), Berkeley and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, over who invented CRISPR genome editing first...
18 March 2019 - by Jakki Magowan 
A group of international experts is calling for a moratorium on the clinical use of germline genome editing in humans...
4 March 2019 - by Hugo Wolfe 
The Chinese government has announced new regulations on genomic technologies in response to a Chinese scientist's claim to have created genome edited babies...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.