'Monstrous' experiment: Aussie experts condemn gene-edited babies

Australians join international outcry over reports twin baby girls had their genome altered

Australian academics have joined global condemnation of news a Chinese researcher has helped make the world's first genetically edited babies.

One called the experiments “monstrous” and most questioned the veracity of reports that Associate Professor He Jiankui, of Shenzhen, claims to have gene edited two healthy embryos, resulting in the birth of baby girls born this month, Lulu and Nana.

He said he edited a gene to make the babies resistant to HIV.

Comments published on the Australian Science Media Centre's website Scimex include:

  • “If true, this experiment is monstrous. The embryos were healthy ... Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations. This is genetic Russian roulette." — Professor Julian Savulescu, visiting professorial fellow in biomedical ethics at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne.