Chinese court sentences 'gene-editing' scientist to three years in prison: Xinhua

A Chinese court sentenced the scientist who created the world's first "gene-edited" babies to three years in prison on Monday (Dec 30), according to the official Xinhua media.

He Jiankui was also fined three million yuan (S$580,000).

Two other people involved in the experiment were also convicted and received lesser sentences and fines.

Zhang Renli was sentenced to two years in prison and fined one million yuan.

Qin Jinzhou received an 18-month sentence, but with a two-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.

"The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment," the court said, according to Xinhua. 

"They’ve crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics."

He, then an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said in November 2018, that he had used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to change the genes of twin girls to protect them from getting infected with the Aids virus in the future.

His announcement caused a backlash in China and globally about the ethics of his research and work.

He and his collaborators forged ethical review materials and recruited men with Aids who were part of a couple to carry out the gene-editing.

His experiments ultimately resulted in two women giving birth to three gene-edited babies, according to Xinhua.