Scientists Debate Ethics of In Utero Germline Editing

With scientists on the verge of being able to manipulate genes before birth, questions about when it is ethical to use available technology and which risks are acceptable when editing the genome are being debated. European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) 2016 Annual Congress. Presented October 21, 2016.

At the same time, GOD AND THE GENOME: AS SCIENTISTS CROSS NEW FRONTIERS, A GENETICIST SEEKS ALLIES AMONG THE FAITHFUL. STAT (10/13) reports Ting Wu, PhD, at Harvard Medical School is asking religious figures to consider to helping her to improve the public’s understanding of genetics. During a “time of unprecedented access to genetic tests and plummeting costs for genetic sequencing, Wu believes people should know what scientific advances mean for them.” Wu’s outreach “to faith groups comes as advances in genetics are forcing scientists to grapple with the power of” the genome-editing, which is “driving much of the ethical debate these days” on the issue. Even “some leading scientists have expressed the belief that there’s something sacred about the human genome.” National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins told BuzzFeed in July, “I do believe that humans are in a special way individuals and a species with a special relationship to God.” Collins added that “that requires a great deal of humility about whether we are possessed of enough love and intelligence and wisdom to start manipulating our own species.”