Chinese "gene-editing" scientist sentenced to 3 years in prison

Researcher He Jiankui (R) guides a laboratory staff member at the Direct Genomics lab on August 4, 2016 in Shenzhen, China
Researcher He Jiankui (R) at the Direct Genomics lab in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, 2016. Photo: Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

A court in China sentenced researcher He Jiankui to three years in prison and fined him 3 million yuan (nearly $430,000) for "illegally carrying out the human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction," the state-run Xinhua reported Monday.

Why it matters: The Chinese scientist's claim in November last year that the world’s first genetically edited babies had been born from embryos he modified using the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR raised ethical concerns.

Report: Huge oversights in Chinese scientist's gene-edited babies attempt

In this illustration, a broken pencil erases a drawing of a DNA double helix.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals

MIT Technology Review released excerpts of Chinese scientist He Jiankui's unpublished research on Tuesday, underscoring massive ethical and practical oversights in his claim that he successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to create genetically engineered children.

The bottom line: A primary goal of the experiment was to test if cells could be gene-edited to become HIV resistant. This could have been done without creating human test subjects, MIT notes.