After 'CRISPR babies' scandal, senators call for gene editing guidelines - Tue 16 Jul 05:45 GMT

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers introduced a new resolution that underscores their opposition to the use of CRISPR for germline editing.

  , and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also reiterated support for international groups working to produce guidelines for the clinical use of germline editing — meaning changes to the DNA in sperm, eggs, or early embryos that would be passed down to future generations.

  Scientists in other countries have also announced plans to continue pursuing such experiments, and some scientific and patient advocacy groups have emphasized how germline editing, once the technology improves, could stave off cases of genetic editing is a powerful technology that has the potential to lead to new therapies for devastating and previously untreatable diseases,” Feinstein said in a statement.

  That commission is tasked with developing a framework for the scientific community to use when considering potential clinical applications of germline editing.

  It is one of several international efforts that have come in response to the announcement last year by Chinese scientist He Jiankui that he had created the world’s first “CRISPR babies”: twin girls whose DNA had been edited by the genome editor CRISPR while they were embryos.

  Some scientists have called for a global moratorium on the clinical applications of germline editing, but as Victor Dzau, the president of the National Academy of Medicine, told STAT last month, the new commissions don’t have the authority to stop scientists in other countries from undertaking such work.

  The Senate resolution would also encourage the State Department to partner with international organizations to develop a global consensus on when germline editing could be considered for clinical use.

  “However, there are dangerous and unethical ramifications if countries perform unrestricted and unethical experiments on humans to advance the science of gene editing … As we move forward, it’s vital that the United States lead the way in creating ethical standards for gene-editing research.”