It’s been one year since a Chinese scientist shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.
He Jiankui has not been seen publicly since January. His work has not been published. And nothing is known about the health of the babies.
Last year, the scientist revealed at a Hong Kong conference that he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. The work was denounced as medically unnecessary and unethical because of possible harm to other genes and because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.
Since then, committees have bogged down over who should set standards on such work.