He Jiankui created the first gene-edited children. The price was his career. And his freedom.
By Antonio Regaladoarchive page April 4, 2022
MS TECH | AP PHOTO/KIN CHEUNG
The daring Chinese biophysicist who created the world’s first gene-edited children has been set free after three years in a Chinese prison.
He Jiankui created shock waves in 2018 with the stunning claim that he’d altered the genetic makeup of IVF embryos and implanted them into a woman’s uterus, leading to the birth of twin girls. A third child was born the following year.
Following international condemnation of the experiment, He was placed under home arrest and then detained. In December 2019, he was convicted by a Chinese court, which said the researcher had “deliberately violated” medical regulations and had “rashly applied gene editing technology to human assisted reproductive medicine.”
His release from prison was confirmed by people familiar with the situation and He answered his mobile phone when contacted early today. “It’s not convenient to talk right now,” he said before hanging up.