In addition, Zhang said that in 2015, "the worldwide research community said it would be irresponsible to proceed with any germline editing without 'broad societal consensus about the appropriateness of the proposed application.' (This was the consensus statement from the 2015 worldwide Summit on Human Gene Editing.) It is my hope that this year's summit will serve as a forum for deeper conversations about the implications of this news and provide guidance on how we as a global society can best benefit from gene editing".
Leading a team at Shenzhen's Southern University of Science and Technology, He Jiankui claims to have altered the embryos of seven couples during fertility treatments, the Associated Press reports, one of which gave birth to twin baby girls this month.
"First, I must apologize that this result was leaked unexpectedly", He told some 700 attendees.
Au also said he was expecting to learn the actual behavioural outcomes of the animals from the studies other than the data and technology involved. At a summit in Hong Kong Wednesday, He Jiankui said his study is now on hold after worldwide condemnation.
But genome editing could also more controversially used for genetic enhancements, such as ensuring children have a particular desirable characteristic such as a certain eye colour.
Jiankui He himself is experienced in using CRIPSR - he first carried out pilot experiments in mice, monkeys, and then non-viable human embryos.
He recruited HIV-positive heterosexual couples who wanted to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, to participate in the work through an AIDS advocacy group.
"We have to be responsible for the people's health and will act on this according to the law", it said in a statement. In fact, this was essentially an unnecessary enhancement procedure that would be associated with risks that do not have offsetting benefits. The leader of the conference called the experiment "irresponsible" and evidence that the scientific community had failed to regulate itself to prevent premature efforts to alter DNA.More news: Google Fi Replaces Project Fi, Adds Support for iPhone
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"Scientists who go rogue ... it carries a deep, deep cost to the scientific community", Daley said.
Liu Wei, a Chinese scientist, said that right now there still are too many uncertainties, adding that the technology has the capability of becoming a genetic version of Frankenstein.
"It is impossible to overstate how irresponsible, unethical and unsafe this is at the moment", said Kathy Niakan, a scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, in London, who was present at the summit. "We know there will be some negatives but we also don't dare - because there will be negatives - to avoid technologies or advancements".
But Daley argued that a consensus was a emerging that "if we can solve the scientific challenges, it may be a moral imperative that it should be permitted".
Meanwhile, more American scientists said they had contact with He and were aware of or suspected what he was doing.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a tool for making precise edits in DNA, discovered in bacteria.
And, the statement said, the university was blindsided by He's announcement. He, the statement says, has been on unpaid leave from the university.
China's National Health Commission said it was "highly concerned" and had ordered provincial health officials "to immediately investigate and clarify the matter".
CRISPR enables scientists to make very precise changes in DNA much more easily than before.
In a video released on YouTube, He said that only a single gene had been changed, but gene editing is known to introduce unintended genetic effects that could raise concerns - either for the children themselves or the human gene pool if the children grow up to pass on their genes.