He Jiankui Fired in Wake of CRISPR Babies Investigation

Scientist Who Made'Gene-Edited Babies Evaded Checks For Fame Report

Another couple is still pregnant, and five others failed to get pregnant following the experiment. He Jiankui comes as Chinese investigators have also determined that he acted on his own and will be punished for any violations of the law, according to state media.

The Shenzhen-based University of Science and Technology where He was working has sacked him based on the allegations, Reuters reported. "Effective immediately, SUSTech will rescind the work contract with Dr. Jiankui He and terminate any of his teaching and research activities at SUSTech", according to the school's statement. He's work has been widely criticized as unethical because of questions about whether the participants truly understood the risks.

He had "deliberately evaded oversight" with the intent of creating a gene-edited baby "for the goal of reproduction", according to the initial findings of an investigating team set up by the Health Commission of China in southern Guangdong province, Xinhua news agency reported.

The investigation confirmed the woman was still pregnant, Xinhua said. The Xinhua report says the twins and those involved in the second pregnancy will remain under medical observation with regular visits supervised by government health departments.

He defended his actions at a conference in Hong Kong last November, stating that he was "proud" of what he had done, doubling down by stating that he had helped protect the twin girls from possible infection with HIV later in life.

The scientific community is anxious that genome-editing may cause harm not only to individuals but also to future generations that inherit these same alterations.

The scientist, He, could not be reached for comment.

Xinhua reported that He's work "violated ethical principles and scientific integrity and breached relevant regulations", and that He and associated persons and institutions "will receive punishment according to laws and regulations".

Many countries have strict rules prohibiting gene-editing of human embryos for reproductive purposes.

He used gene-editing technology known as CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats).

He had raised funds himself and privately organized a team of people to carry out the procedure in order to "seek personal fame and profit", Xinhua said, adding that he had forged ethical review papers in order to enlist volunteers for the procedure. A total of eight couples - with HIV-positive fathers and HIV-negative mothers - signed up for He's trials, with one couple dropping out of the experiment. He said he altered embryos for seven couples in total by disabling CCR5, the gene that enables HIV to take hold.

He disappeared from the public eye late a year ago, until he was discovered living under guard in a university dormitory.

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