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Little Known

It's been a year since researcher He Jiankui announced that he had edited the genomes of twin girls as embryos, a revelation that was widely condemned. While He's announcement sparked discussions into the ethics of germline editing as well as efforts to develop guidelines for its use, the Associated Press notes little is known about those twin girls, a second pregnancy resulting from He's genome-editing work, or even He himself.

Following his announcement, He was under what appeared to be house arrest, it says, adding that he was last seen in public in January. The AP adds that its efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. It also reports that a Chinese investigation appeared to confirm the twin girls' existence and that of another pregnancy resulting from the work, which should have reached full-term over the summer. But the AP writes that little else is known about the health of the twins or the result of that pregnancy, though the state new agency Xinhua noted last January that twin girls and the expectant mother would receive follow-up medical care. 

"That's the story — it's all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding," William Hurlbut, a bioethicist at Stanford University, with whom He had discussed his plans, but who was cleared of involvement in the work by Stanford, tells the AP.