Scientist He Jiankui was condemned around the world last year where he brazenly announced in a YouTube video he had produced the first gene-edited humans in history – dubbed “Frankenstein babies” by some critics.
Dr Pete Mills, the Assistant Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, attended the scientific conference in Hong Kong where the world first learnt about the experiment.
Speaking to Daily Star Online, he said the scientific community was aware at the time of the creation of other mutant baby pregnancies in China – and the women would have come to the end of their pregnancies around now.
However, information on the cases ceased to be released following an international outcry – and China’s repressive state and censorious laws could be to blame.
“I don’t know what the fate of this [the pregnancies] is, but at the time, there was another continuing pregnancy. There may yet be be one or more gene-edited children,” Dr Mills explained.
Jiankui was criticised harshly because of the ethical questions about experimenting on humans, and last month it was reported China was planning tougher laws and regulations.
“We may or may not hear about those [secret babies],” Dr Mills continued, explaining that the Chinese scientists behind the experiment have still not published their full data following the outcry.
He said there was no evidence Chinese people have a different attitude to experiment on humans, but insisted the experiment by Jiankui and his team was “absolutely not acceptable.”
Dr Mills described the experiments on humans as impossible to justify “where we really do not know what the consequence will be and if there will be terrible consequences”.
Human genetics are extremely complex, and small changes to one gene, understood to influence one body part, can unexpectedly effect other organs or bodily systems.
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SOURCE: Daily Star, Liam Deacon