Future of Gene Editing in Question

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Valid or Invalid Gene Editing?

A meeting of an international group of scientists in Washington on 3rd December, 2015 necessitated a review of the existing gene editing techniques. The resolution was passed after the group termed it ‘irresponsible to proceed’ with gene editing until risks associated with it could be assessed. They also called for a ‘broad societal consensus about its appropriateness’ concerning any such changes. However, the meeting acknowledged that as knowledge advances, the proposed permanent changes to human genome ‘should’ be revisited on a regular basis.

The meeting was called for in the wake of a new gene editing technique, Crispr–Cas9 that was invented around three years ago. The technique, which is widely accessible, allows the DNA to be edited with an unprecedented ease and precision. This would allow physicians to alter germline that includes an egg and sperm to cure the genetic disease. These changes, however, would be directly passed onto the next generation thus, altering the nature of human species.

The meeting convened by the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences was attended by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London. The participation of a Chinese delegation is an achievement, considering the fact that they were in the forefront of editing human genes earlier in the year.

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