IVF.net  /  News

Gene editing of human embyros must be allowed, says Hinxton group

Kirsty Oswald

Progress Educational Trust

20 September 2015

| | | |
[BioNews, London]

The influential Hinxton Group has said that the genetic modification of human embryos should be allowed in research.

The international group of scientists, ethicists and policy experts, who met last week in Manchester, described such research as 'essential'. It also said that our knowledge 'is not sufficiently developed to consider human genome editing for clinical reproductive purposes at this time', but that gene-editing the human germline should not be completely ruled out in future.

'We acknowledge that when all safety, efficacy and governance needs are met, there may be morally acceptable uses of this technology in human reproduction, though further substantial discussion and debate will be required,' it writes.

The group's statement makes clear that it believes a distinction is needed between reproductive research using gene-editing technology and more basic research.

'It is our conviction that concerns about human genome editing for clinical reproductive purposes should not halt or hamper application to scientifically defensible basic research,' the group writes.

It suggests that such research includes improving gene-editing techniques in themselves and addressing fundamental questions about human biology.

'The relevant regulatory distinction should be not between using genome editing in somatic cells and using it in embryos, but between research and reproduction: whether those embryos are ever destined to be implanted,' said Dr Sarah Chan, a committee member from the University of Edinburgh.

'Restricting research because of concerns that reproductive application is premature and dangerous will ensure that it remains forever premature and dangerous, for want of better knowledge,' she added.

The position of the group contrasts with that taken by the US National Institutes of Health, which has stated that it will not fund any research that involves the genetic modification of embryos. Some of the scientists who pioneered the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique have also called for a moratorium on its use.

However, in the UK, the Wellcome Trust and fellow research organisations recently expressed similar sentiments to the Hinxton group, stating that a moratorium was not the appropriate solution to ethical concerns.

'While there is controversy and deep moral disagreement about human germline genetic modification, what is needed is not to stop all discussion, debate and research,' said Dr Debra Mathews, a Hinxton group member from Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Rather, she said, researchers should 'engage with the public, policymakers and the broader scientific community, and to weigh together the potential benefits and harms of human genome editing for research and human health.'



http://www.BioNews.org.uk
© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

Share IVF News on FaceBook   Share IVF News on Google+   Share IVF News on Twitter

Page Views: 2085
Add to Favorites | Reply to Ad | Tell Your Friends
Date Added: 20 September 2015   Date Updated: 20 September 2015
Reviews (1)
write a review
Ke-Hui Cui   01 December 2015
Dr.
Yes, you can perform research which is not aimed for production, but for correction of genetic tissue (not germline) problems.


Join Our Newsletter - Don't Miss Anything!!!

Stay in touch with the latest news by subscribing to our regular email newsletters