Bioethics News

The embryo germline modification, particualrly in humans. It is an unsafe procedure

 “Absolute prohibition of such experiments”

A group of clinical researchers has proposed modifying embryos using “therapies that may affect the embryo germline“. These techniques could produce changes that could be transmitted to successive generations.

This fact has given rise to major discussion, largely aimed at promoting absolute prohibition of such experiments, and also at trying to develop new therapeutic options for potentially lethal diseases.

A group of experts in these research areas, headed by D. Baltimore and P. Berg, recently stated that, “At present, the potential safety and efficacy issues arising from the use of this technology must be thoroughly investigated and understood before any attempts at human engineering are sanctioned, if ever, for clinical testing”.

However, others state that a moratorium, similar to that proposed in Asilomar (California), when gene therapy experiments commenced, could appear to be seemingly insensitive towards those patients who suffer serious diseases.

Nonetheless, most researchers think that for now, therapies that modify the germline are not ethically acceptable. Among these is George Q. Daley, a researcher at Harvard University, who recently said that gene therapy that can modify the germline is “an unsafe procedure and should not be practiced at this time, and perhaps never” (Science, see HERE).

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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.