Experts on an international commission are saying it’s too early to tweak the human genome for future generations, but they’re also pointing to the first genetic targets to be tweaked.
The experts’ report, issued today, comes in response to the uproar that arose in 2018 over claims that Chinese researchers had edited the genomes of twin babies in an attempt to reduce their vulnerability to the HIV virus.
Those claims sparked a blizzard of questions about the ethics, legality and efficacy of the experiment. It also sparked efforts to lay down guidelines for the use of recently developed gene-editing tools such as CRISPR to make changes in the human genome that could be passed down to future generations.
In today’s report — prepared with the backing of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and Britain’s Royal Society — the 18-member commission says researchers will have to demonstrate that precise genomic changes can be made reliably without introducing unwanted changes. The commission also says no current technologies, including CRISPR, can satisfy that requirement.
Once the state of the art gets to that point, heritable human genome editing should initially be limited to the prevention of serious diseases ...