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Nobel Laureate Told of Gene-Editing Effort

Nobel laureate Craig Mello was told of He Jiankui's efforts to edit human embryos, the Associated Press reports. It says that Mello received an email from He announcing a pregnancy stemming from the gene-editing work the same day He himself learned of it.

He broadly publicized the birth of the twin girls, whose genomes he had altered as embryos, in November. The scientific community met this announcement largely with disapproval, as many called it unethical. Others questioned the need to take such a drastic step to prevent HIV infection, as there are other ways of doing so, and others noted faults with the science itself.

Following his announcement, some researchers said they suspected that He was pursuing human gene editing and said they tried to dissuade him.

The new AP report indicates that the University of Massachusetts' Craig Mello, who was a scientific advisor for He's Direct Genomics until December, was informed of the work.

"I'm glad for you, but I'd rather not be kept in the loop on this," Mello replied to He's April email about the pregnancy, according to the AP. "You are risking the health of the child you are editing ... I just don't see why you are doing this. I wish your patient the best of luck for a healthy pregnancy."

In a statement, Mello tells the AP he thought his discussions with He were hypothetical and he did not know He was "personally interested" in human gene editing. Additionally, he says he disapproves of He's work.