China confirms the birth of gene-edited babies and vows to punish scientist He Jiankui who ‘violated rules to carry out the unethical study for personal fame’

A Chinese investigation says the scientist behind the birth of two babies whose genes had been edited in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus acted on his own ‘for personal fame and profit’ and will be punished for violating regulations.

Confirming the births, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday that investigators in the southern province of Guangdong determined Dr He Jiankui organised and handled funding for the experiment without outside assistance in violation of national guidelines. The university He worked for said he had been fired.

The scientist sparked global controversy in November when he announced in a YouTube video that he had successfully used a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the embryonic genes of twin girls born that month.

One of the mothers gave birth to twins nicknamed ‘Lulu’ and ‘Nana’, the investigators said. Another woman is still carrying a gene-edited fetus. The Xinhua report said all three would remain under observation.