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A pencil with genetic code replacing the wooden shaft of the pencil

In 2018, during the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, Jiankui He shocked the world by announcing the birth of two children whose genomes he had edited using CRISPR technology. Following widespread condemnation and a criminal investigation, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison. The case caused international outcry and brought to the fore the need to reconsider the serious ethical, scientific, and social issues of heritable human genome editing. As science advances, especially in non-heritable, somatic gene editing for treatment of previously incurable diseases, regulatory gaps are becoming exposed. Governance of gene editing research was a major discussion point at the Third International Human Genome Editing Summit in London, on March 6–8, with widespread recognition for the need to build on existing guidelines to develop global standards for governance and oversight of human genome editing. As He's unconscionable actions showed, the ethical and scientific risks are substantial.

Gene editing regulations must consider the aims and consequences of the different practices involved. Somatic genome editing interventions (eg, targeted therapies such as chimeric antigen receptor T...