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Lessons to Learn

The story of He Jiankui's effort to edit the genomes of twin girls as embryos should be a "serious lesson" for both China and the world, an editorial in the South China Morning Post says.

He, as he announced last year, sought to edit the girls' CCR5 genes to make them resistant to HIV infection, as their father was HIV-positive. But as the Morning Post notes, there are easier and cheaper ways to prevent HIV infection from being passed from parent to child, and, it says, He appears to not have been successful in his attempt. Because of this, the editorial argues that the girls, nicknamed Lulu and Nana, should be followed and cared for as they grow up and as side effects of their treatment may appear. 

The editorial adds that this "sorry episode" highlights the need across the globe for stronger and more transparent regulations to protect people who participate in genetic research, particularly gene-editing studies.

"Where the risks far outweigh the benefits, such experiments should be discouraged except in the most desperate of cases, subject to full disclosure and transparency, and ethical considerations," the Morning Post editorial adds.