‘CRISPR babies’ are still too risky, says influential panel
Editing genes in human embryos could one day prevent some serious genetic disorders from being passed down from parents to their children — but, for now, the technique is too risky to be used in embryos destined for implantation, according to a high-profile international commission. And even when the technology is mature, its use should initially be permitted in only a narrow set of circumstances, the panel says.
The recommendations, released in a report on 3 September, were produced by experts in ten countries convened by the US National Academy of Medicine, the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK Royal Society. The document joins a wealth of reports compiled in recent years that have argued against using gene editing in the clinic until researchers are able to address safety worries, and the public has had a chance to comment on ethical and societal concerns.
“The technology is not presently ready for clinical application,” says Richard Lifton, president of the Rockefeller University in New York City and co-chair of the commission. The report — which reviewed the scientific and technical state of heritable gene editing, rather than ethical questions — advocates the formation of an international committee to evaluate developments in the technology and advise national advisory groups and regulators on its safety and utility.