Bioethics News

Germline gene editing could soon reach the USA. What about the globally agreement that it should be prohibited?

“We’re very disappointed with the report. It’s really a pretty dramatic shift from the existing and widespread agreement globally that human germline editing should be prohibited”

On 14th February 2017, the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine in the United States (Washington, D.C.) issued a report drawn up by an international committee regarding the advisability of using gene editing techniques on the germline (gametes and preimplantation embryos).The report concludes that, “with stringent oversight, heritable germline gene editing clinical trials could one day be permitted for serious conditions”. Although they say that it is not yet the time and that much more research is required in this field, this report means a further step for gene editing in embryos.

¿A step to designer babies?

The embryos would not initially be implanted, as happens in England (See HERE), but would be used only in research. The following step would be their application in very severe clinical cases, as the report recommends. The fear of some scientists is that this will open the door to the production of so-called “designer babies”. “We’re very disappointed with the report. It’s really a pretty dramatic shift from the existing and widespread agreement globally that human germline editing should be prohibited”, says Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California (See HERE).

Germline gene editing heritable risks; our bioethics assessment

The risks of genetically modifying the germline are unpredictable, and present the additional problem that the modifications will affect the entire organism and, therefore, will be transmitted from generation to generation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.