He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, center, speaks during the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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A Chinese researcher who claims to have helped make the world's first genetically edited babies says a second pregnancy may be underway.Mainstream scientists have condemned the experiment, and universities and government groups are investigating.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.Altering DNA before or at the time of conception is highly controversial because the changes can be inherited and might harm other genes. It's banned in some countries including the United States except for lab research.He defended his choice of HIV, rather than a fatal inherited disease, as a test case for gene editing, and insisted the girls could benefit from it.The case shows "there has been a failure of self-regulation by the scientific community" and said the conference committee would meet and issue a statement on Thursday about the future of the field, Baltimore said.Before He's talk, Dr. George Daley, Harvard Medical School's dean and one of the conference organizers, warned against a backlash to gene editing because of He's experiment. Whether He violated reproductive medicine laws in China has been unclear; Qui contends that it did, but said, "the problem is, there's no penalty".He called on the United Nations to convene a meeting to discuss heritable gene editing to promote international agreement on when it might be OK.
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