The journal that days ago published the first-ever paper on an attempt to genetically modify human embryos has come out in defense of its decision and rebuffed claims that the paper was not adequately peer reviewed.
The paper appeared online on 18 April in Protein & Cell, which is co-published by Springer and an affiliate of China’s Ministry of Education. Junjiu Huang and colleagues at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou describe their efforts to use the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to alter a gene in abnormal human embryos. Their gene-editing effort was not very successful and introduced many unintentional mutations.
The paper has touched off a furor from scientists and others who have called for a moratorium on any efforts to establish a pregnancy with such a genetically modified embryo. Many have deemed Huang’s experiment unethical, and Huang himself has reportedly said that the paper was rejected by Science and Nature in part for ethical reasons.