A file photo shows a staff member placing the blood samples at the China National GeneBank in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)
Three Chinese researchers involved in the birth of genetically edited babies were convicted of illegal medical practice.
SHENZHEN, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researcher He Jiankui was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan (about 430,000 U.S. dollars) for illegally carrying out human embryo gene-editing intended for reproduction, in which three genetically edited babies were born, a court in south China's Shenzhen city said Monday.
The Nanshan District People's Court of Shenzhen said He, former associate professor with the Southern University of Science and Technology, and two others were convicted of illegal medical practice.
Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou from two medical institutes in Guangdong Province received jail terms of two years, and 18 months with a two-year reprieve, respectively, as well as fines.
According to the verdict, the three, not qualified to work as doctors, had knowingly violated the country's regulations and ethical principles to practice gene editing in assisted reproductive medicine.
The verdict and previous investigations showed He's team fabricated an ethical review certificate and recruited eight volunteer couples (with males who tested positive for HIV) intending to produce HIV-immune babies. They implanted genetically-engineered embryos into the females' body and impregnated two of them, who gave birth to three babies.
It said their acts were "in the pursuit of personal fame and gain" and have seriously "disrupted medical order."
The three pleaded guilty during the trial.
He claimed in November 2018 that the world's first genetically edited babies were born with their DNA altered to prevent them from contracting HIV. The news made a scientific splash and prompted an immediate investigation from authorities. ■