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The Latest: Scientist reports 2nd gene-edited pregnancy

November 28, 2018
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Feng Zhang, center, an institute member of Harvard and MIT's Broad Institute, is surrounded by reporters while speaking on the issue of world's first genetically edited babies after the Human Genome Editing Conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. He Jiankui, a Chinese researcher, claims that he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies twin girls whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on a scientist’s claim to have made the world’s first gene-edited babies (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A Chinese researcher who claims to have helped make the world’s first genetically edited babies says a second pregnancy may be underway.

The researcher, He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen, revealed the possible pregnancy Wednesday while making his first public comments about his controversial work at an international conference in Hong Kong.

He claims to have altered the DNA of twin girls born earlier this month to try to make them resistant to infection with the AIDS virus. Mainstream scientists have condemned the experiment, and universities and government groups are investigating.

The second potential pregnancy is in a very early stage and needs more time to be monitored to see if it will last, He said.

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1:25 p.m.

A leader of an international conference on gene editing says the work of a scientist who claims to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies showed a failure of self-regulation among scientists.

Nobel laureate David Baltimore said Wednesday the work of the scientist who made the claim would “be considered irresponsible” because it did not meet criteria many scientists agreed on several years ago before gene editing could be considered.

Chinese scientist He Jiankui (JEE-ahn-qway) spoke earlier at the conference in Hong Kong about the work he said led to the births this month. He said the twin girls were conceived to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus.

Baltimore said he didn’t think that was medically necessary. He said the case showed “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.

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1:15 p.m.

A Chinese scientist on Wednesday made his first public comments about his claim to have helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies.

He Jiankui (JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen detailed the work that he said led to the births earlier this month of twin girls whose DNA he altered when they were conceived.

The work is highly controversial because the changes can be passed to future generations and could harm other genes.

He spoke Wednesday at a conference on gene editing in Hong Kong, the first time he’s discussed his experiment in a public venue.

He says he altered the DNA of twin girls when they were conceived to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus.

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10:30 a.m.

A prominent American scientist is warning against a backlash to the claim that a Chinese scientist has helped make the world’s first gene-edited babies.

Harvard Medical School dean Dr. George Daley says it would be unfortunate if a misstep with a first case led scientists and regulators to reject the good that could come from altering DNA to treat or prevent diseases.

Daley spoke Wednesday at an international conference in Hong Kong, where the Chinese scientist, He Jiankui (HEH JEE-ahn-qway) of Shenzhen, also is scheduled to speak.

He says he altered the DNA of twin girls when they were conceived to try to help them resist possible future infection with the AIDS virus.

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