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China Considers Gene-Editing Protections

As part of its effort to update its civil code, China is considering a regulation that would protect human genes and embryos, Nature News reports. It adds that under this draft regulation, research on genes in embryos or adults that cause them harm would be considered a violation of their rights.

According to Nature News this regulation governing human genes and embryos appears to be a last-minute addition spurred by the announcement by researcher He Jiankui last November that he had altered the genomes of two twin girls as embryos. He's announcement was met with widespread condemnation and investigations. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported in January that a preliminary investigation found He's work contravened government bans.

This new draft regulation, Nature News notes, falls under the section of the code dealing with individuals' rights to "physical well-being, freedom, privacy, and dignity."

"The law makes clear that those who do research with human genes and embryos cannot endanger human health or violate ethics," Zhang Peng from Beijing Wuzi University, tells Nature News.