Genome editing of human cells

Scientists call for public debate on altering DNA to prevent diseases

On 2nd September, a group of leading UK research funders issued a statement calling for an urgent national debate on the ethics of genetically modifying human embryos and other tissues to prevent serious diseases. The group, comprising the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Association of Medical Research Charities and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council:

  • supports the continued use of CRISPR-Cas9 and other genome-editing techniques in preclinical research, which includes the use of the technology for research purposes in human reproductive cells and early embryos, where this is fully justified, scientifically and ethically, and within the confines of the law;
  • states that it will continue to fund and support research of this kind, as well as studies that further progress and refine these technologies; and
  • calls for widespread discussion among scientists, ethicists and the wider public about how these emerging techniques may in future be applied clinically, in human reproductive cells and early embryos, to treat or prevent serious genetic disease.

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