Where Are Dr. He Jiankui and the “CRISPR Babies” Now?

One year after He Jiankui, PhD, used CRISPR to modify the DNA of twin embryos to make them resistant to the AIDS virus, the Chinese scientist has not published work or been seen in public.

A few weeks after he was last seen in January 2019, China’s official news agency said an investigation found that Dr. Jiankui acted alone, driven by fame, and would be punished for any violations of law.

Additionally, Rice University is still investigating Michael Deem, PhD, a professor of biochemical and genetic engineering, for his connection to the illegal gene editing. Dr. Deem was Dr. Jiankui’s adviser when he attended the university and his name was on a paper Dr. Jiankui submitted to a journal.

“Many people knew, many people encouraged him. He did not do this in a corner,” Stanford bioethicist William Hurlbut, MD, said.

The health status of the babies also is unknown. According to the investigation, a third baby resulting from a pregnancy using a gene-edited embryo would have been born in late summer 2019. The Chinese government has seized Dr. Jiankui’s lab records as well as any remaining embryos.

Source: AP News, November 26, 2019.