He's research has sent shockwaves through the global scientific community, with many raising concerns over the lack of verified data and the risks of exposing healthy embryos to gene-editing. Scientists there created the world's first gene-edited human embryo and the first cloned monkeys, as two examples.
But details of the experiment, which has not been independently verified, triggered an immediate backlash, with experts denouncing He's work as an ethical "mess".
"I feel proud", he said of the birth of the twins, who he said were born normal and healthy. Although HIV is not curable, it can be preventable and treatable. Xu also reportedly said an investigation had been ordered.
"The events in Hong Kong this week clearly demonstrate the need for us to develop more specific standards and principles that can be agreed upon by the worldwide scientific community", NAS president Marcia McNutt and NAM president Victor Dzau said in a statement.
The leaders of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing issued a statement Thursday on the last day of their conference in Hong Kong criticizing He Jiankui's claim as "deeply disturbing".
A project claiming to have produced the world's first gene-edited babies has been stopped by the Chinese government, which is declaring the work of scientist He Jiankui as being both unlawful and unethical, according to the Associated Press.
He, who said he was against gene enhancement, said eight couples were initially enrolled for his study while one dropped out.
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Upon questioning, He even dropped this bombshell: "There is another one, another potential pregnancy", suggesting that there could be a second pregnancy with gene-edited babies.
He used the gene-editing tool CRISPR, a method that makes it easier and more accurate to alter genes that has emerged in recent years.
The university where He works also distanced itself - saying he had been on unpaid leave since February - and called his claims a "serious violation of academic ethics and norms".
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also weighed in, emphasizing in a Twitter post the need for "more than just laws" to ensure CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene-editing technologies aren't misused or abused.
Summit organisers said germline genome editing could become "acceptable" in future if rigorous criteria are met, including "strict independent oversight". The Southern University has said that He's work violated its ethics and standards, while researchers around the world have described the work as premature and unsafe experimentation on human beings.
Shenzhen Harmonicare Women and Children's Hospital, where the fertilisation allegedly took place, now denies involvement in He's work and has said it believes a signature on papers approving the experiment were falsified.