Scientists call for a global ban on the use of CRISPR gene editing technology

Last year, the Chinese geneticist He Jiankui,despite the ban, operating on the territory of the Celestial Empire, he conducted an extremely doubtful experiment in terms of morality and ethics on the genetic editing of human embryonic cells, as a result of which the first twins with the edited genome appeared. He Jiankui shared his work at the Second International Genetic Editing Summit. Very soon, most of the world academic community condemned He's actions. And the Chinese government even opened a criminal case against him.

In response to growing concerns aboutPremature introduction of genetic editing technology into clinical practice A group of 18 scientists from 7 countries, including two developers of the CRISPR / Cas genome editing technology, Emmanuel Charpentier and Feng Zhang, called for a global ban on the use of genetic editing of viable human embryos for the birth of CRISPR -people. An open letter calling for a ban on the use of this technology for at least the next 5 years was published in the scientific journal Nature.

The authors of the manifesto understand the temporary moratorium inas a voluntary rejection of such experiments, until a number of conditions are confidently satisfied. For example, the authors point out that the international community must be informed before the approval of such experiments, the transparent work on the consideration of applications for such experiments, as well as discussions in society about the relevance of such experiments.

“Countries may choose a different approach, but they must agree to work openly and with respect for the opinion of society on the issue that ultimately concerns the whole species,” the scientists write.

The authors of the appeal especially emphasize thatThe moratorium should not concern the editing of embryos for scientific purposes without replanting them into the uterus, as well as the editing of somatic cells for the treatment of diseases.

“Although technology in the past few yearsgermline cell editing has not yet developed safely or effectively enough to be used for clinical purposes. The scientific community agrees that for such an application the risk of not receiving the necessary changes or the occurrence of unexpected mutations is still unacceptably high. Significant research work is being conducted in this direction, ”says the published document.

The authors also believe that it is necessary to understandthe difference between genetic editing, aimed at protecting against potential diseases, and editing, aimed at enhancing certain genetic parameters in humans. According to scientists, the issue of protecting the future child from potential diseases is more complex and requires more in-depth discussion. But editing the genes to enhance certain abilities of the person, at least at this stage of development of the technology of gene modification, the authors of the report consider completely unacceptable.

Scientists remind that today couples with highThe risk of transmitting a mutation that causes a disease is the possibility of in vitro fertilization and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. The authors of the manifesto believe that the improvement of these procedures is currently the safest way to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases.

Scientists also emphasize the needInvolving broad public opinion on the issue of gene editing. Speakers are confident that decisions about such experiments should not be made only by the scientific community. In addition, they call on all independent scientists, as well as scientific organizations that have become aware of such experiments or plans to conduct them, to communicate this information to the general public. As a negative example, the lecturers cited the case of He - there were people who knew about his work, but they did not do anything to stop them.

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