Image of CRISPR gene editing

Embryo Gene-Editing Experiment Reignites Ethical Debate

When it comes to CRISPR, questions about if we can edit human embryos are fast giving way to discussions more focused on “But should we?” and “When?” as feats with the gene-editing technology have started to accrue.

Today, biologists from Oregon report in Nature that they have had unprecedented successes using that gene-editing technology to alter early-stage, viable human embryos. The advance moves the field far past earlier attempts by researchers in China and underscores the need to come up with some answers—and fast, researchers say. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently barred from granting approval to anyone hoping to use this technology in pregnancies, the Nature study suggests such work could be possible, says Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, a biochemist and CRISPR expert. But she and many others say this would be an inappropriate use of the technology. “I’m not categorically against all human germ-line editing,” Doudna says, “but I think there would need to be a reason to do it that would justify the risks and costs.”




UC Berkeley



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