A Chinese scientist’s claim that he has created the world’s first gene-edited children has caught health regulators flat-footed and triggered a flood of condemnation from research bodies.

He Jiankui, from Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, said in a YouTube video posted online on Monday that healthy twin sisters were born in China earlier this month from embryos he and a team of researchers modified to switch off an HIV-related gene.

Chinese health officials said they were unaware of the controversial experiment.

“We just saw it on internet. We are equally shocked as everybody else,” an official in charge of medical ethics evaluation at the National Health Commission said. “We are completely in the dark.”

The commission is the highest authority on health-related issues in the country and can stop any experiment deemed unsafe or unethical. see more