Intended for healthcare professionals


Gene editing: China’s new regulations contain concerning loopholes, experts warn

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 20 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p657
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

China’s new ethics regulations are a step in the right direction in terms of overseeing gene editing research, but there are concerns that private ventures may not be covered.

Joy Zhang, founding director of the Centre for Global Science and Epistemic Justice at the University of Kent, said that the regulations apply to traditional medical, scientific, and educational establishments but “fail to tackle directly how privately funded research and other social ventures will be monitored.” She was speaking at the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing in London on 6 March.

The updated regulations come after researcher He Jiankui—on the eve of the last summit in 2018—announced the birth of the world’s first gene edited babies. After the announcement, He was placed under house arrest and later sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “illegal medical practice” and given a 3m yuan (£329 000; €386 000; $430 000) fine by a Chinese court.1

Despite this, He, who was released from prison in April 2022, is working again, much to the surprise of many experts in the field. He has been raising money to study Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and reportedly has plans to launch a clinical trial by 2025.2


Speaking to The BMJ about the new regulations, Zhang said that they have expanded the scope of research which requires an …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription