Takeaways from Day 2 of the International Summit on Human Gene Editing. The challenge: Not devoting all of them to legal scholar and doctor of irony Barbara Evans.
- Barbara Evans’ scenario: Couple meets for a date. One says to other: BTW, I’ve had my genes edited. #FutureImplications
- Janet Rossant, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children: “It’s absolutely our responsibility” to engender public buy-in and trust.
- In France, UK, US, no plan to launch public debate on gene editing. “It might be a good idea.” (Jennifer Merchant)
- Listening & wondering: Is germ-line editing a distraction? The breakthroughs and greatest uses will come with somatic cells, which are much less ethically suspect.
- Yes! Molecular biologist Thomas Reiss makes a case for accessible language (and uses it himself). #HealthLiteracy
- “What is needed is a very authentic form of public engagement,” requiring that“science learns to communicate with public.” (Keymanthri Moodley, S. Africa)
- One concern in a “wild wild west” of gene editing: medical tourism.
- One concern if there’s a moratorium: “It will only limit the legitimate science” (Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Israel)
- International regulation would discourage medical tourism, but hard to respect social, cultural and moral/ethical differences among countries.
- An ethics question: Does principle of double effect have anything to say about the problem of off-target modifications?
- Public health disease burden in settings such as Sub Saharan Africa is high priority. Hepatitis B and HIV have treatments, not cures, possibly creating a moral imperative for somatic gene editing.
- Context: In a 6 billion character, 1.1-million
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