China researchers confirm human embryo gene-editing work, but gave up, Nature says

China researchers have confirmed widespread rumors circulating in the scientific community that they had performed landmark work using a gene-editing technique on human embryos--usually an ethical no-no. Regardless of the debate surrounding the work, they concluded that what they were attempting was not feasible.

The journal Nature reported the scientists at Sun Yat-sen University had published their work in an obscure journal, Protein & Cell. Rumors of their work in progress revived a long-standing debate about the ethics of research using human embryos.

As it turns out, Nature said Junjui Huang was not alone in conducting research on human embryos. Its sources in China said at least three other groups also are studying gene editing on human embryos.

Huang's team said they attempted to avoid the controversy by using "non-viable" embryos supplied by local fertility clinics. Their work attempted to change the gene that is blamed for B-thalassaemia, an often-fatal blood disorder.

The Nature article said the researchers concluded their work merely showed there were "serious obstacles to using the method in medical applications."

- here's the article from Nature