Genetic modification in humans has been a long debated topic among experts. Some people strongly disagree with the idea. However, with the recent report from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, it's may be the end for the arguments.
According to the report, once gene-editing techniques advance sufficiently for use in people and proper restrictions are in place, scientists must be permitted to modify human embryos destined for implantation in the womb to eliminate devastating genetic diseases such as sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis.
Sorry to inform you, people, but mutants will not be with us, at least soon (c) Digital Trends
In a 2015 National Academies summit, the organizers concluded that scientists shouldn’t yet perform germline editing on embryos for pregnancy, but can alter human embryos in the lab for the sake of basic research.
However, in the recent report confirms, scientists could proceed in the future but outlines strict limits. Such as, restricting the technique to severe medical conditions for which no other treatment exists.
Furthermore, the report also calls for international cooperation, strict regulatory and oversight framework, public input into decisions and long-term follow-ups of children who have edited genomes.
For now, genome editing should not be used for human enhancement, such as improving a person’s intelligence or giving them super-strength.
Despite that, not everyone is happy with the NASEM report. Those who oppose any human germline editing said it is a step back.
Probably what the human gene editing supporters say
“It's disappointing that the National Academies would take such a duplicitous position,” says David Prentice, vice-president and research director of the anti-abortion, non-profit Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington DC in a statement
. “If there are ethical reasons not to allow most germline editing, those same reasons apply to any germline editing.”
According to experts, understanding and preventing the ways in which genome-editing techniques such as CRISPR that would cause unintended mutations is a necessary step before using such methods in human embryos.
“Up until now, we’ve been talking only hypothetically and most people assumed we simply wouldn’t ever do this,” Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and co-chair of the report told Nature
. “We are not saying that you have to or you should, but we are saying that if you can meet these criteria it is permissible.”