In DepthBiology

What now for human genome editing?

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, pp. 1090-1092
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6419.1090

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In the wake of He Jiankui's shocking announcement that his lab created the first germline-edited babies, the scientific community has done great soul searching about how this happened—and how they might prevent others from using CRISPR again to edit embryos and then implant them in women. He's own behavior has been thoroughly scrutinized, and researchers who met with him before he described the details of his work last week at a Hong Kong, China, meeting said he seemed defiant and even unaware of the importance of sharing his data at the gathering. Although many countries already prohibit and even outlaw germline editing of embryos, there's a push to create an international body that can evaluate any future proposals, and there's widespread agreement that technology is not yet mature enough to do this for any reason. What's more, questions still remain about whether any medical conditions justify germline editing as another alternative exists: preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) used during in vitro fertilization. Others counter that PGD has its own limitations, and that germline editing could meet important, unmet medical needs.