Nov. 29, 2018 -- The work of a research team that claimed to have produced the world's first gene-edited babies is illegal and has been halted, the Chinese government said Thursday.
An investigation has been ordered into the research that led to the birth of twin girls earlier this month, Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology Xu Nanping told state broadcaster CCTV, the Associated Press reported.
Last week, He Jiankui claimed to have altered the DNA of the twins to try to make them resistant to infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS virus.
The research "crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community and was shocking and unacceptable," Xu said.
There has been wide condemnation of the unproven claim by He, who appeared this week at an international conference on gene editing in Hong Kong.
In a statement released Thursday, the 14 leaders of the conference said it's irresponsible to attempt gene editing on eggs, sperm or embryos, except in lab research, because not enough is known yet about its risks or safety, the AP reported.
The conference leaders also called for independent confirmation of He's claim.
He was scheduled to speak again at the conference on Thursday, but has left Hong Kong. Through a spokesman, He issued a statement saying: "I will remain in China, my home country, and cooperate fully with all inquiries about my work. My raw data will be made available for third party review," the AP reported.