“We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children”.
With this opening sentence in a commentary published this week on Nature, Eric Lander and a group of eminent scientists and bioethicists request an international governance framework to address this challenging theme.
IRDiRC fully endorses their call. Sharon Terry, who represents Genetic Alliance in IRDiRC, has co-authored the commentary.
The new technologies of genome editing bear the potential to correct the genetic defects at the root of many human diseases in somatic cells with unprecedented precision and ease; nonetheless, extending application of these tools to the human germline is fraught with serious concerns that cannot be addressed by the scientific community alone.
The proposed moratorium does not intend to ban research to make therapeutic application of genome editing safe and effective, but calls for a five-year time to build an international network allowing the scientific community and national decision makers to address the medical, social and ethical implications of germline genome editing.
IRDiRC strongly supports the proposal by Lander and colleagues, while encouraging continued research to bring genome editing techniques to the safety and efficacy levels required to transform such potential into effective therapies for rare diseases.
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