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HUGO's CELS is a mechanism for HUGO to proactively initiate and facilitate dialogs on the ethical, legal and social issues related to genetics and genomics.
This cut-and-paste function has given rise to the moniker ‘gene editing’, effectively replacing ‘genetic engineering’ and connotes a widely available tool for altering and even correcting DNA.
It has enormous scientific potential, was dubbed as ‘The biggest biotech discovery of the century’, At first glance, many of the ethical issues associated with gene editing appear the same as those raised about genetic engineering two decades ago.
After stating our methods, we group our views into four sections: areas of agreement, areas of controversy, growing points and areas timely for developing research.
This is not a systemic review, but relies on our review of research, clinical, and popular media sources, aided by Pub Med and Google searches using the keywords ‘CRISPR AND ethics’ and other similar terms for the years 2014 to present (August 2016).
One could say, ‘If scientists are smart enough (or ignorant enough) to correct a mutation that, despite their best forethought and intention, proved deleterious in a later generation, their scientific heirs will be smart enough to reverse it.’ Such thinking seems to be hubris.
Moreover, the genomic traits targeted for ‘rewriting’ are also a potential concern: past abuses of genetics that must never be forgotten are the idols of eugenics that captivated the much of the world in the early twentieth century; they must remain in the past.
Plenary presentations have been made at national meetings of geneticists, cancer researchers and bioethicists.
Pub Med hits for ‘CRISPR’ doubled since 2012, from 149 to 350, 6 in 2015.
The leap from gene editing in ‘somatic’ cells (e.g.
normal liver cells or pathogenic mutations in cancers) to performing it in ‘germ’ cells, may seem trivial, for the same laboratory procedures with CRISPR–Cas9 would be used.