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Researchers behind claim of gene-edited babies sentenced in China

The lead scientist, He Jiankui, was sentenced to three years in jail and fined the equivalent of $430,000.

BEIJING — Three researchers involved in the births of babies claimed to have been genetically edited have been sentenced for practicing medicine illegally, Chinese state media said Monday.

Image: He Jiankui
He Jiankui in Shenzhen, China, in October 2018.Mark Schiefelbein / AP file

The report by Xinhua news agency said the lead researcher, He Jiankui, was sentenced to three years and fined 3 million yuan, or about $430,000.

Two other people received lesser sentences and fines. Zhang Renli was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan. Qin Jinzhou received an 18-month sentence, but with a two-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.

He, the lead researcher, said 13 months ago that he had helped make the world's first genetically edited babies, twin girls born in November 2018. The announcement sparked a global debate over the ethics of gene editing.

He also was involved in the birth of a third baby who researchers claimed was gene-edited.