Chinese researcher who claimed first gene-edited babies is reportedly missing

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HONG KONG (AP) – The Chinese scientist who made international headlines after he claimed he helped produce the world’s first genetically edited babies is now reportedly missing. 

According to The South China Morning Post, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, China disappeared after giving a presentation last week in Hong Kong regarding his controversial experiment. 

The publication reported the Southern University of Science and Technology denied claims that Jiankui had been detained. 

Jiankui said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have — an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the AIDS virus.

There is no independent confirmation of his claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin Tuesday, and earlier in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press.

“I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” He told the AP. “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or forbidding such science.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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