Perspectives: Gene-Editing On Human Babies Was Highly Irresponsible; Allow Use Of CRISPR In Embryos
Opinion writers express views about gene-editing.
The Washington Post:
The Chinese Gene-Editing Experiment Was An Outrage. The Scientific Community Shares Blame.
To be sure, it was a highly irresponsible step — an unnecessary and medically pointless experiment conducted upon two unwilling and unconsenting human lives. (There are far less risky ways to avoid HIV infection.) The widespread condemnation by ethics experts was warranted, yet we ought to also scrutinize the international scientific context in which it took place. (J. Benjamin Hurlbut , Sheila Jasanoff and Krishanu Sana, 11/29)
The Washington Post:
Gene Editing Is Here. It’s An Enormous Threat.
A Chinese scientist’s claim to have created the first genetically edited babies has evoked widespread condemnation from the scientific community. “This is far too premature,” one American genetic scientist told the Associated Press.But here is a larger question: Should we be doing this at all?The Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to alter the DNA of two children in a petri dish and attempt to make them resistant to HIV. This is not what has American scientists up at arms. In fact, researchers in the United States have done the same thing. In 2017, scientists at Oregon Health & Science University used CRISPR to genetically alter human embryos to make them resistant to an unidentified disease. The difference is that He then implanted his edited embryos. The American researchers killed theirs. (Marc A. Thiessen, 11/29)
Don't Ban The Use Of CRISPR In Embryos
On Sunday (November 25), He Jiankui, a scientist at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, announced that he was the “first” to use CRISPR to genetically edit twin babies to inactivate the gene for CCR5, a chemokine receptor that the HIV virus uses to infect human immune cells. There are many questions regarding this announcement: What were the medical motivations in using gene editing to “protect” these future twins from contracting HIV? Why weren’t embryos that carry fatal genetic mutations the targeted subjects for gene editing? How do we protect the “autonomous rights” of the unborn? Nonetheless, the visions of how this gene-editing technology could be abused unnerved scientists, medical ethicists, and legislators. The temporary halt to gene editing on humans ordered by the Chinese government is only an appropriate step if it leads to instituting intelligent ethical guidelines related to this technology. (John D. Loike, 11/29)
International Society for Stem Cell Research:
ISSCR Comments On Reports Of Chinese Scientists Performing Genome-Editing During Fertility Treatment
The ISSCR is aware of reports that scientists in China have used CRISPR-mediated genome editing during in vitro fertilization to modify the genetic material of two embryos that were subsequently implanted into a patient, leading to the birth of two babies. As ISSCR and a number of other organizations have previously stated, the use of nuclear genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR, during fertility treatment is premature and should not be attempted at this time. The safety risks associated with potential unintended genetic changes in embryos remain uncertain. (11/28)