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Interest Piqued

Stanford University bioethicist William Hurlbut says fertility clinics, including one in Dubai, reached out to researcher He Jiankui for gene-editing training after his announcement that he had edited the genomes of twin girls as embryos, the Associated Press reports.

He's announcement, which came last November, drew widespread condemnation and investigations into He, the study, and other researchers who may have been associated with it. Stanford cleared Hurlbut, as well as Stephen Quake and Matthew Porteus, of wrongdoing in its investigation and said that these Stanford researchers has expressed misgivings about the work and urged He to adhere to ethical guidelines.

Hurlbut tells the AP that clinics and families from numerous countries reached out to He, providing the news agency with an email from a clinic in Dubai. "It reveals what eagerness there is out there to use this technology," Hurlbut tells the AP, adding that it stresses the need "for some sort of enforceable governance."

The University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna says that reports of others interested in editing embryos are likely reliable, though she cautions that gene editing is not ready for clinical use.