Chinese Scientist Who Used CRISPR To Gene-Edit Babies Gets Three Years In Prison

He Jiankui and two other scientists were sentenced in a Nanshan District court for using gene-editing on human embryos, which is banned in China.
John Loeffler
Wikimedia Commons

He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who controversially used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing tool to modify human embryos in 2018, has been sentenced by a Chinese court to three years in prison for violating the nation's ban on gene-modification for human embryos.

Chinese scientist sentenced to three years in prison for controversial use of CRISPR on human embryos

He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who sparked a global controversy in November 2018 when he announced that he had used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique on human embryos that were carried to term has been sentenced to three years in prison for the banned experiment.


China's state-run news service, Xinhua, is reporting that He and two other scientists involved in the illicit experiment were sentenced in the Nanshan District People's Court of Shenzhen. He received a three-year prison sentence while the other two scientists received lesser prison sentences. He was also fined 3 million yuan, about $430,000, for genetically modifying human embryos intended for reproduction, which ultimately led to three live births.

He announced in a genetics conference in Hong Kong in 2018 that he had genetically modified the human embryos to give them an immunity to the HIV virus after selecting eight couples with men had tested positive for HIV. The announcement caused an immediate and international uproar over the highly-dubious ethics of the experiment -- an uproar alluded to in court as prosecutors charged that the three scientists acted "in the pursuit of personal fame and gain" and had "disrupted medical order."

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