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Genetically Modified Babies Were Inevitable as DNA Tech Advanced

  • Rapid proliferation, falling costs lowered scientific barriers
  • Global standards are muddled by overlapping regulatory regimes
He Jiankui
He JiankuiPhotographer: Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo

When a Chinese researcher claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies, he traversed a boundary many people in medicine had long feared would be crossed.

Thanks to the proliferation and fast-falling cost of new genetic technology, that one day scientists would alter the DNA of an unborn person was increasingly inevitable. He Jiankui, a U.S.-educated scientist based in Shenzhen, said that he had used the gene-editing tool known as Crispr to tailor the genes of twin girls born this month to make them resistant to HIV.