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Health Highlights: Nov. 29, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Scientist Who Claimed World's 1st Gene-Edited Babies Says There May be 2nd Pregnancy

The Chinese researcher who made an unconfirmed and controversial claim about creating the world's first gene-edited babies says there may be a second such pregnancy.

On Wednesday, He Jiankui of Shenzhen announced the second possible pregnancy while making his first public comments about his research at an international conference in Hong Kong, the Associated Press reported.

The second pregnancy is in the very early stage and it will take more time to determine if it will last, according to He.

Last week, He said he altered the DNA of twin girls born earlier this month in an attempt to make them resistant to the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.

Universities and government groups are investigating He's claims about his research, which has been widely condemned.

This type of gene editing is highly controversial because such DNA changes can be passed to future generations and might damage other genes, the AP reported.

He's experiment is "irresponsible" and shows that the scientific community had failed to regulate itself to prevent premature efforts to alter DNA, according to David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate from the California Institute of Technology, and a leader of the Hong Kong conference.

"This is a truly unacceptable development," Jennifer Doudna, a University of California-Berkeley scientist and one of the inventors of the CRISPR gene-editing tool He said he used, told the AP.

"I feel more disturbed now," David Liu of Harvard and MIT's Broad Institute, and inventor of a variant of the gene-editing tool, told the AP. "It's an appalling example of what not to do about a promising technology that has great potential to benefit society. I hope it never happens again."

So far, He's claim has not been independently verified and it has not been published in any scientific journal where it would be reviewed by experts.

At the conference, He left many questions unanswered, including who paid for his research and why he kept it secret until after it was done, the AP reported.

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2018

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