Sunday, 19 August, 2018


Based Think Tank Says Editing Human Embryos Is 'Morally Permissible'

A report into editing the DNA of a human embryo has been published A report into editing the DNA of a human embryo has been published
Patty Aguilar | 20 July, 2018, 07:10

In its new report titled "Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues", the bioethics council said that new technologies have enabled "precisely targeted alterations to DNA sequences in living cells", especially the CRISPR-Cas9 system that emerged in 2012.

The report, entitled 'Genome Editing and Human Reproduction: Social and Ethical Issues', represents the output of two years' work by an eight-member working party which included scientific, legal and ethical experts from across the UK.

The Council stressed the possibilities this raises could have "significant implications for individuals and for all of society", and before the law so there must be action now "to support public debate and to put in place appropriate governance". "There is no reason to rule it out in principle".

"Whilst there is still uncertainty over the sorts of things genome editing might be able to achieve, or how widely its use might spread, we have concluded that the potential use of genome editing to influence the characteristics of future generations is not unacceptable in itself", said Karen Yeung, a professor of law, ethics and informatics at Britain's Birmingham University, who chaired the panel.

In a new report, the UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has concluded that the use of heritable genome editing "could be ethically acceptable in some circumstances". DNA that is damaged during the procedure could be passed down to future generations.

The critics of the genome altering have also said that the council's report opens up the doors to designer babies where the DNA of the embryos are altered by the parents in order to have a child with the characteristics which they desire. "Initially, this might involve preventing the inheritance of a specific genetic disorder". As this technology continues to develop and advance it does in fact have the potential to become an alternative strategy for parents to achieve a wider range of goals.

It recommends that two overarching principles should be adhered to when considering use of heritable genome editing interventions in order for them be ethically acceptable: they must be meant to secure the welfare of the future person; and they should not increase disadvantage, discrimination or division in society.

George Church, a Harvard University geneticist, who was not involved in the report, told The Guardian that he agreed with the report that editing DNA "should not be expected to increase disadvantage, discrimination, or division in society", but that making changes to some genes could save some babies from painful diseases. If the law were to ever change, genome editing should be strictly regulated, it added.

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