Scientist behind 'CRISPR babies' is back in the lab

He Jiankui, PhD, a Chinese scientist who sparked controversy in 2018 after claiming to have genetically modified two human embryos, is on a new scientific endeavor: trying to develop a therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, NPR reported June 8.

Dr. Jiankui's disclosure spurred a wave of concern from scientists across the world about the ethics of gene-edited babies. In 2019, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "illegal medical practices." 

Now, one year after his release, Dr. Jiankui is back in the lab using CRISPR in search of a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare degenerative condition that causes muscle weakness. 

"I think no one can rewrite history and go back there and do [it] a better way or something," he told NPR of his prison experience. "I just want to let it go so I can move on to my new project to cure patients."

The therapy would entail a single shot injected into the blood that would identify and correct the mutant gene responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dr. Jiankui is starting animal testing in a few months with the hopes of launching clinical trials in 2025. 

View the full article here.

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