Scientific institutions are trying to devise global safeguards to stop rogue gene-editing of human embryos
Some U.S. researchers knew of a Chinese scientist’s intentions to implant edited embryos but were unable to stop him.
A recent article makes an update of the measures that the scientific community is implementing to avoid implantation of edited embryos. It says Now, nearly two months after Dr. He shook the scientific world by announcing he had created the first genetically edited babies — twins, born in November — the world’s major science and medical institutions are urgently trying to come up with international safeguards to keep such rogue experiments from happening again.
Dr. Matthew Porteus, a genetics researcher at Stanford, tried to talk a Chinese scientist out of implanting gene-edited embryos. Anastasiia Sapon for The New York Time.
But while scientists around the world agree the nightmare scenario must be stopped, they disagree about how to do it. Even inventors of Crispr, the gene-editing tool Dr. He used, differ on the best approach.
Some scientists want a yearslong moratorium on creating pregnancies with gene-edited human embryos. Others say a moratorium would be too restrictive, or unenforceable. Some think scientific journals should agree not to publish embryo-editing research. Others consider that misguided or ineffective.
Are major health and science institutions acting quickly?
But most agree major health and science institutions should act quickly. The World Health Organization is assembling a panel to develop global standards for governments to follow. Leaders of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have jointly proposed a commission with academies in other countries to develop criteria so scientists can’t “seek out convenient locales for conducting dangerous and unethical experimentation.” The proposal included establishing “an international mechanism that would enable scientists to raise concerns.”The World Economic Forum in Davos has scheduled a discussion of the issue on Thursday. Read entire article HERE (New York Times, 01-23-2019).
Our bioethical statement
In our opinion, although measures need to be developed to prevent a repeat of what happened in China, we must also take into account the protection of human embryos. Not only should pregnancies with modified embryos be banned, but prohibiting the use of human embryos and their destruction in research is also urgent. Technical advances in this field must be based on animal models, as is usual in medicine.