Eighteen scientists from seven countries have called for “a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing” — that is, changing DNA in sperm, eggs, or early embryos to make genetically altered children, alterations that would be passed on to future generations.
In the wake of CRISPR babies, there is an urgent need to better regulate and debate whether, when and how related research should be done.
The federal government has a short list of regulated organisms. But the government’s ban focuses on the organisms themselves, rather than the genetic instructions for making them. Because the government has not published those sequences, the companies must decide for themselves whether a mail order request is potentially dangerous.
Variations of the genome editor CRISPR have wowed biology labs around the world over the past few years because they can precisely change single DNA bases. But such “base editors” can have a serious weakness. A pair of studies published this week shows that one kind of base editor causes many unwanted—and potentially dangerous— “off-target” genetic changes.
China is tightening rules on gene-editing, after a Chinese scientist prompted a global outcry by claiming that he had edited the genes of a pair of newborn twins. In a draft regulation released this week, China’s National Health Commission proposed a stringent approval process for biomedical research and heavy penalties for scientists who evade oversight.
A scientist in New York is conducting experiments designed to modify DNA in human embryos as a step toward someday preventing inherited diseases.
Genome editing has been used to destroy a virus that lurks inside many of the bananas grown in Africa. Other teams are trying to use it to make the Cavendish bananas sold in supermarkets worldwide resistant to a disease that threatens to make it impossible to grow this variety commercially in future.
The idea is to generate poultry that cannot get flu and would form a "buffer” between wild birds and humans.
Gene-editing technology - including manipulation of the human germline - is advancing rapidly, yet the standards and regulations to govern its use have not kept pace.
The very nature of gene drives, designed to force their genetically-modified characteristics into a population, could make their effects difficult or impossible to reverse.