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Who Knew What When?

Stanford University officials have started an investigation to determine just what some faculty members there knew about He Jiankui's effort to edit the genomes of human embryos, according to Technology Review.

He announced in November that he used the CRISPR editing approach to alter the CCR5 genes of human embryos, which resulted in the birth of twin girls in the fall and another ongoing pregnancy. This revelation shocked much of the international scientific community, many members of which argued the work was unethical and poor science.

He didn't, though, keep his plans to himself. He reportedly discussed his idea with a number of individuals, including three Stanford faculty members: bioethicist William Hurlbut, gene-editing researcher Matthew Porteus, and Stephen Quake, He's former postdoc advisor, as Tech Review notes.

Hurlbut and Porteus say they objected to the work and tried to dissuade He from pursuing it, according to the Associated Press, while Quake says they only discussed it in broad terms.

Rice University announced in November that it was conducted its own investigation into the role of its faculty member, Michael Deem, who was He's graduate school advisor and whoe had told the AP he helped He.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.