Nature has been closely following the ongoing discussion on CRISPR-Cas9, and what this remarkably easy and powerful gene editing technique means for our conceptions of what is practical and ethical in altering the human genome. Particularly contentious has been the prospect of editing DNA in the human germline, which could provide complete cures for deadly genetic diseases — but could also introduce changes to genome, for better or worse, that would be passed from generation to generation.
Among Nature’s coverage of this controversy has been a feature article published in May in Nature Biotechnology, weighing CRISPR’s possibilities. This article includes, in a supplementary document, complete Q&A’s with over 20 experts discussing the promise of CRISPR therapeutics, the perils of editing the human germline, and what if any international norms or institutions could regulate its use:
“[T]he unanticipated effects of targeted genetic modification are a major source of concern. We still have a great deal to learn about gene regulation and networks. No one would have worried about off target effects in non-coding RNAs a few years ago.” – Martin Pera, chair of stem cell sciences at the University of Melbourne
Many parents (most likely mothers who carry an X-linked mutation) with a fatal genetic mutation who have lost a child before would take a risk to correct the genetic defect in germ cells or embryos. Is it moral to illegalize their desperate desire?” – Jin-Soo Kim, director of the Center for Genome Engineering at Seoul National University
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Outpouring of Commentary on CRISPR Germline Editing