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Indeed, the only thing He apologised for was that news had "leaked unexpectedly" that he had used the gene-editing technique Crispr to alter embryos and then implanted them in the womb of a woman who gave birth to twin girls this month.

Earlier on Monday, a group of more than 120 Chinese scientists signed a letter condemning the gene editing, describing the work as "crazy" and "unethical".

He, who earlier sparked worldwide debate after revealing his unprecedented trial, defended his research at the summit on Wednesday and revealed there was another potential pregnancy of a gene-edited embryo.

"I told him that it was irresponsible and reckless to proceed for many reasons and that he needed to discuss his plans with senior authorities in China before proceeding any further", Porteus said.

Organizers of the conference called for an independent investigation to "verify this claim and to ascertain whether the claimed DNA modifications have occurred".

Altering DNA before or at the time of conception is highly controversial because the changes can be inherited and might harm other genes. "And until there's a strong reason to change that perspective, it will continue to be so here in the United States".

However, one famed geneticist, Harvard University's George Church, defended attempting gene editing for HIV, which he called "a major and growing public health threat".

"Pandora's box has been opened", they said.

"The choice of diseases we heard earlier today are much more pressing than providing to one person some protection against HIV infection", Baltimore, chairman of the summit's organising committee, said.

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"In the beginning we did not understand what it was they were really doing".

However, He maintained his research was valid, saying that he feels proud of what he had done with the girls' genes. "For this case, I feel proud". "It's an appalling example of what not to do about a promising technology that has great potential to benefit society".

"I hope this is a wake-up call for everybody to recognize that while this technology is incredibly exciting, this is an important moment where we need to grapple with responsibility of managing this technology going forward".

He refused to answer questions concerning who paid for his work, if he made participants aware of potential risks and why he didn't reveal anything about his work until after it was done.

They say there are serious unanswered questions about the safety of embryo editing and a need to make sure that such research is conducted in a transparent, monitored way so the technology is not misused.

Outside scientists and ethicists slammed the experiment for being medically unnecessary, because the babies wouldn't have been born infected with the virus, which can also be prevented with existing, low-risk interventions.

The conference was rocked by the Chinese researcher's claim to have helped make the world's first gene-edited babies. HIV is not an appropriate candidate because there are already safe ways to prevent transmission, and if contracted it can be kept under control with medications, researchers said. "I feel proudest", He said, when challenged by several peers at the conference. Both cause tremendous suffering, are hard to treat effectively, and in rare cases are certain to be passed to any biological children, says Harvard Medical School Dean George Daley, a stem cell scientist.

Other concerns have focused on the CCR5 gene, which scientists at the conference said is crucial to the human immune system.


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