The Verge spoke to New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan about this trial, the challenges of gene therapy, and why ethics boards will want to take a very close look.[Verge:] In your opinion, how far away is fetal gene therapy in humans? Are we talking a decade? Two decades? [Caplan:] I would say 10 years.
…[Verge:] What about the downsides of the prenatal approach? [Caplan:] One is that you get a third person involved in terms of the risk of research: the mom. Trying to administer gene therapy around her can put somebody at risk. And until we’re really sure from many more studies, we can’t put moms at risk even if it would help the fetus.
[Verge:] What are the considerations we need to think about before this becomes viable?
You’ll need close review by ethics committees because if you ask moms, if they’re willing to take a risk to help their child, most moms are probably going to say “yeah.” But they may not be able to process the risk or understand the dangers well.
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