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Advisory Panel, Tiptoeing Into Ethical Minefield, Reverses Guidance On Editing Human Embryos

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CREDIT: This post was originally published on this site

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine said that modifying genes in embryos is acceptable if the alterations are designed to prevent babies from acquiring genes known to cause “serious diseases and disability,” and only when there is no “reasonable alternative.”

The New York Times: Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel’s Support
An influential science advisory group formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine on Tuesday lent its support to a once-unthinkable proposition: the modification of human embryos to create genetic traits that can be passed down to future generations. This type of human gene editing has long been seen as an ethical minefield. (Harmon, 2/14)

The Washington Post: Ethicists Advise Caution In Applying CRISPR Gene Editing To Humans
Ethicists have been working overtime to figure out how to handle CRISPR, the revolutionary gene-editing technique that could potentially prevent congenital diseases but could also be used for cosmetic enhancements and lead to permanent, heritable changes in the human species. The latest iteration of this ongoing CRISPR debate is a report published Tuesday by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine. The report, a series of guidelines written by 22 experts from multiple countries and a variety of academic specialties, presents a kind of flashing red light for CRISPR. (Achenbach, 2/14)

NPR: Editing Human Embryo Genes Could Be Allowed Someday, Scientific Panel Says
The academies determined that new gene-editing techniques had made it reasonable to pursue such controversial experiments down the road, though not quite yet. “It is not ready now, but it might be safe enough to try in the future,” R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who co-chaired the committee, said. “And if certain conditions are met, it might be permissible to try it.” That conclusion counters a long-standing taboo on making changes in genes in human sperm, eggs or embryos because such alterations would be inherited by future generations. (Stein, 2/14)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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