At the conference, of which the organizers included Jennifer Doudna, one of the inventors of Crispr technology, Dr. A careful speech about something that fellow attendees considered square in the domain of ethically approved research, said one of those who were present, Dr. Fyodor Urnov, deputy director of the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences and guest researcher at the Innovative Genomics Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
"If you've listened to his speech, it's this very cautious, thoughtful step-by-step progress," said Dr. Urnov. "He presented embryo processing from CCR₅. He presented the conversation to peers, professional gene editors who know that the field is moving forward fast, so frankly the atmosphere in the room, I do not want to say ho-hum, but it was & # 39; Yeah, sure, you & # 39; I've made progress 10 years. & # 39;
"What we now know is that while he was talking, there was a woman in China who was wearing twins," said Dr. Urnov. "He had the opportunity to say," Oh, and by the way, I just go out and say it, people, there's a woman with twins. "
He did not do it. "I would never play poker against Dr. He," said Dr. Urnov.
Richard Hynes, cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-leader of an advisory group for human gene processing for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, said that that group and a similar organization in Britain had determined that if human genes were to be processed, the procedure would only have to be carried out to address "serious unmet needs in medical treatment, it had to be followed well, it had to be properly followed up, full consent must be present."
It is not clear why changing genes makes people resistant to H.I.V. is "a serious unmet need." Men with H.I.V. do not infect embryos. Their sperm contains the virus that causes AIDS, which can infect women, but the virus can be washed off before insemination of their semen. Or a doctor can inject a single sperm into an egg. In both cases the woman will not be infected and neither will the baby.
Dr. He got his Ph.D, from Rice University, in physics and his postgraduate training, at Stanford, was not working with Stephen Quake, a professor of bio-engineering and applied physics who works on DNA sequencing.
Experts said that the use of Crispr would actually be quite easy for someone like Dr. Hey.
After he came to Shenzhen in 2012, he founded a DNA sequencing company at the age of 28, Direct Genomics, and brought Dr. Quake in his advisory board on the list. But in a telephone interview on Monday, Dr Quake said he was never associated with the company.
–Austin Ramzy has contributed reporting from Hong Kong and Elsie Chen has contributed research from Beijing.