Organizers of global scientific meeting back cautious use of gene-editing in humans

At the close of the International Summit on Human Gene-Editing, the organizers released a statement saying it would be “irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing” until the risks were better understood, but fell short of endorsing a moratorium on human germline gene-editing. They encouraged the cautious use of gene-editing in embryos for basic research, and for clinical use in gene-therapies.

 

Dr. Jacob Corn, Scientific Director, Innovative Genomics Initiative &  Assistant Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, University of California, Berkeley (webpage):

Expertise: Next-generation genome editing; clinical and commercial applications of the technology.

“To me, this is a very responsible statement on human editing. The immense benefits of genome editing for research and to non-heritably cure diseases are affirmed. At the same time, the current scientific and societal difficulties in germline editing are called out, and it is made clear that these factors should preclude germline editing at this time. However, the statement is also forward-thinking enough to recognize that we may eventually be able to tackle such issues (though it may take a while). The proposed ongoing forum will help ensure that we responsibly revisit these questions as the science moves forward.

“The use of genome editing for research purposes could be transformative to further our understanding of reproductive diseases, and the statement’s position that germline cells can be edited in a research capacity but not used to establish a pregnancy enables such uses.”

 

Dr. Mark Osborn, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, University of Minnesota (webpage):

Expertise: Gene Therapy, Genome Editing, Cellular Therapy

“The members of the Organizing Committee for the International Summit on Human Gene Editing did not explicitly endorse a moratorium on human germline gene-editing; however they did take key steps in providing overall guidance for this topic area.  They state that “if, in the process of research, early human embryos or germline cells undergo gene editing, the modified cells should not be used to establish a pregnancy.” Moreover, they proposed a framework to insure that if a future benefit is perceived that the work will be undertaken with scientific and societal consensus as part of an inclusive, multi-disciplinary system that fosters discussion, debate, and policy implementation without harmful marginalization.

 

Declared interests (see GENeS register of interests policy):

Dr. Jacob Corn is Director of Innovative Genomics Initiative, described as “dedicated to the enhancement and proliferation of genome editing research and technology in both the academic and commercial research communities”.

No further interests declared.

 

Reference:

On Human Gene Editing: International Summit Statement

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