Revised regulations require greater disclosure by scientists and more protections for study participants
Nearly 5 years after a Chinese scientist sparked worldwide outrage by announcing he had helped create genetically edited babies, China has unveiled new rules aimed at preventing a repeat of such ethically problematic research on humans.
The genetic work conducted by He was truly shocking and stunned the world. The long-term effects on the girls may not be known for decades. Presumably, the girls will be the subject of multiple investigations throughout their whole lives. Superficially, this move by China with tighten up their health research guidelines so nothing like this can happen again. However, some have observed that the new guidance does not go far enough.
The new measures, which were developed by four government agencies, “are much more comprehensive and systematic” and “strike a good balance” between protecting people who participate in studies and allowing science to move forward, says Linqi Zhang, a virologist at Tsinghua University.
But some researchers worry they don’t go far enough, given China’s surging biomedical innovation. The revision is “very significant, but I don’t think it is sufficient,” says Joy Zhang, a China-born sociologist at the University of Kent who studies China’s research establishment. A notable shortcoming, she says, is that the rules don’t apply to companies, foundations, and other private entities.