After his announcement that he had edited the genomes of twin girls as embryos, researcher He Jiankui was often labeled "rogue," as Science reports, but, it adds, there were a number of people in whom he confided some of his plans. He even explored opening a clinic with an IVF specialist, according to Science.
As He's germline gene editing was broadly condemned by most of the scientific community, many of those confidants distanced themselves from him or downplayed their roles or influence on him, Science adds. William Hurlbut, a bioethicist at Stanford University tells it that He was "thrown under the bus."
"Everyone ran for the exits, in both the US and China," Hurlbut adds. " I think everybody would do better if they would just openly admit what they knew and what they did." He discussed his plans with Hurlbut, but Hurlbut has said he tried to dissuade He, and an investigation by Stanford cleared him of wrongdoing.
Science also reports that He met with fertility doctor John Zhang, who as, New Scientist reported in 2016, was the first to perform a mitochondrial transfer procedure through which a baby boy was born with genetic material from three individuals. As MIT's Technology Review adds, He and Zhang met on a couple of occasions to discuss the possibility of opening a genetic medical tourism clinic.
Zhang tells Science that "after all this happened, of course we're not going to have any further collaboration."