When scientists discover a new way to prevent disease or overcome infertility, they usually get applauded. But throw genetic engineering into the mix and it gets dicey fast. Genetic engineering in reproductive medicine is particularly scary because we’re talking about...
Scientists could be allowed to make modifications in human DNA that can be passed down through subsequent generations, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine say.
Such a groundbreaking step should only be considered after more research and then only be conducted under tight restrictions, the academies write in a highly anticipated report released Tuesday. Such work should be reserved to prevent serious diseases and disabilities, it says.
The academies determined that new gene-editing techniques had made it reasonable to pursue such controversial experiments down the road, though not quite yet.
"It is not ready now, but it might be safe enough to try in the future," R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who co-chaired the committee, said. "And if certain conditions are met, it might be permissible to try it."
That conclusion counters a long-standing taboo on making changes in genes in human sperm, eggs or embryos because such alterations would be inherited by future generations. That taboo has been in place partly because of fears that mistakes could inadvertently...