Based Think Tank Says Editing Human Embryos Is ‘Morally Permissible’

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 20, 2018

Independent Association in the field of bioethics "Nuffield Council" in the United Kingdom agreed to recognize morally permissible to edit the DNA of human embryos.

Gene editing has been championed as a potential medical silver-bullet allowing parents to prevent genetic diseases being inherited by their children.

The UK now bans the practice, but the report urges more research into the safety, effectiveness and societal impact of the practice.

It called on the government to act now to support public debate on the issue and ensure a "responsible way forward".

While the report by one of the world's most advanced-thinking ethics council does not suggest that the laws should be changed, it does call out for further research to be conducted in this field to determine the safety as well as the effectiveness, the social impact it will have and also more discussions based on the possible implications.

Genome editing, which targets DNA sequences in living cells, could in theory be used to change the human embryo before it is transferred to the womb.

"Whilst there is still uncertainty over the sorts of things genome editing might be able to achieve, or how widely its use might spread, we have concluded that the potential use of genome editing to influence the characteristics of future generations is not unacceptable in itself", said Karen Yeung, a professor of law, ethics and informatics at Britain's Birmingham University, who chaired the panel.

"There is no reason to rule it out in principle", she said.

For them, genome editing in assisted reproduction needs to secure the welfare of the future person.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, members of the Nuffield Council working group were clear that the science still had "some way to go" and said it could be up to 20 years before heritable genome editing becomes a feasible option.

The Guardian said that in a new study, released on Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology, British researchers found that Crispr-Cas9, the most popular genome editing tool, caused more damage to DNA than originally believed.

The Council stated that future legislation on allowing human genome editing to correct genetic faults in offspring, should not be ruled out. This means it shouldn't in any way increase disadvantage, discrimination, and division in society.

Heritable genome editing involves making targeted changes to the genome of embryo, sperm or egg cells, resulting in alterations which can be transmitted stably through generations.

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