EDITORIAL

Wake-up call from Hong Kong

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1215
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw3127

Summary

The Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held in Hong Kong last month, was rocked by the revelation from a researcher from Shenzhen that twins were born whose healthy embryonic genomes had been edited to confer resistance to HIV. Despite widespread condemnation by the summit organizing committee, world scientific academies, and prominent scientific leaders that such research was “deeply disturbing” and “irresponsible,” and the launch of an investigation in China into the researcher's actions, it is apparent that the ability to use CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the human genome has outpaced nascent efforts by the scientific and medical communities to confront the complex ethical and governance issues that they raise. The current guidelines and principles on human germline genome editing are based on sound scientific and ethical principles. However, this case highlights the urgent need to accelerate efforts to reach international agreement upon more specific criteria and standards that have to be met before human germline editing would be deemed permissible.