What’s Next for CRISPR Babies?

What’s Next for CRISPR Babies?

Following last year’s bombshell revelation, investigations mount and debates swirl about the future for gene-edited humans. Here are the four most pressing questions.

Nature, 2019

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  • Controversial
  • Scientific
  • Background


The idea of a lone scientist gone rogue has long been part of the public imagination. Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui may qualify as such, having likely created the world’s first gene-edited babies. David Cyranoski discusses the fallout and potential global consequences of He’s experiment. In this Nature article, Cyranoski provides a useful overview that scientists and anyone interested in the ethical issues gene-editing raises will find thought-provoking.


Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui’s gene-edited babies will have repercussions across the scientific community.

Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui recently announced a controversial medical breakthrough: He edited the genome of twin girl fetuses. He Jiankui claimed to have successfully disabled a gene that enables HIV to penetrate cells. By creating the world’s first gene-edited babies, he opened up the path for scientists to alter the human genome. Although it remains unclear whether He Jiankui’s experiment was successful, his rogue action and the publicity surrounding it will likely have repercussions across the scientific community.

He Jiankui failed to follow standard safety procedures, exposing himself to legal jeopardy and putting the babies’ lives at risk.

Following He Jiankui’s expulsion from his...

About the Author

David Cyranoski  is a science writer based in Shanghai.

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