Human Genome Editing

Human genome editing tools can add, delete, or inactivate a gene or make targeted alterations. Basic laboratory research demonstrates the potential benefits and risks for use of this technology in humans. However, genetic changes have the potential to be inherited by the next generation. That's why a National Academies of Sciences Committee along with others recently reviewed, summarized, and assessed the promise and concerns in order to provide a foundation for recommendations for regulation of genome editing in humans.

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However, a publication about human embryo testing in the US was announced yesterday. OHSU provided details of their editing of a gene mutation for inherited genetic defects causing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  You may recognize the effects of this gene change as the cause of sudden death in young athletes. Researchers in the lab setting have been able to correct this gene change in embryos. The authors report this technique may be of value in increasing the number of human embryos available for in vitro fertilization following pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.  Others express concerns that this is a mechanism for being able to create designer babies.

One of the recommendations in the National Academies report RECOMMENDATION 7-1 states that "Extensive and inclusive public participation should precede clinical trials for any extension of human genome editing beyond treatment or prevention of disease or disability. " and encourages the general public to share their support or concerns so that their perspectives can be included in the policy making process.  I challenge you to make time to view the webinar on this subject and provide your comments below. Thanks!