‘CRISPR babies’ prompt review of international gene-editing guidelines: They ‘were not clear enough’

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Less than two years after producing an exhaustive report on human genome editing, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences are planning an international commission on the most controversial use of that technology — creating “CRISPR babies,” medicine academy president Dr. Victor Dzau announced [January 24] at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The 2017 academy report and others on embryo editing “were not clear enough” on when it would be scientifically and ethically acceptable to permanently alter the DNA of an embryo, sperm, or egg in such a way as to make it heritable by all of that individual’s children, Dzau said, and too open to interpretation.

For instance, criteria in the 2017 report include that any such germline editing be carried out only in the “absence of reasonable alternatives,” address a “serious disease,” and make safety paramount. He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who used CRISPR-Cas9 to alter embryos’ DNA in a way intended to prevent HIV infection, has claimed he met all of those criteria.

Related article:  China tightens gene-editing regulations in wake of CRISPR baby scandal

Dzau called that a “rationalization,” adding, “All of these things need to be revisited, and that’s what we plan to do.”

The commission is still in the planning stages, but Britain’s Royal Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other scientific and medical groups outside the U.S. have signed on, he said.

Read full, original post: After ‘CRISPR babies,’ international medical leaders aim to tighten genome editing guidelines

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