Posted on March 23, 2018 at 1:34 AM
Recently, two resources have become available regarding gene editing and the issues raised by it.
First, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have made available an archive of its February 22 webinar about human gene editing. The home page for the Academies’ human gene-editing initiative is here. A link to the archived webinar is here. The slides can also just be viewed here.
Second, Issue 1 of Volume 24 of the journal The New Bioethics is dedicated to human gene editing. The entire issue, or individual articles from it, are available online for purchase, or for viewing if you have access through an academic institution. Article titles deal with, for example, differentiating gene editing from mitochondrial transfer, comparing ethical issues with gene editing vs embryo selection, and “selecting versus modifying” to deal with disabilities.
I have not been through these materials in any detail, yet. The webinar looks a smidge promotional, co-sponsored as it was by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). But it also recommends the Academies’ report on the status of human gene editing, and summarizes key recommendations, which include limiting efforts (at least for the present!) to editing “somatic,” or, if you will, “adult” cells to make them into cellular therapies for recognized diseases. This is well within the existing ethical and regulatory regime governing clinical research and treatment development, as opposed to the deeply problematic prospect of heritable gene editing, or attempts to edit genes for human enhancement, both of which the report and the webinar (at least the slides) counsel that we NOT rush into. The New Bioethics articles look thoughtful and worth reviewing, which I hope to do (and comment on) in the near future.