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Human gene editing research gets green light

International group of scientists says altering germline DNA OK, but only for research

By
5:52pm, December 3, 2015
illustration of scissors cutting DNA

MAKING THE CUT  CRISPR and other gene editing tools may help cure genetic diseases. Conducting research on embryos and correcting diseases in adults is fine, but researchers should not make gene-edited babies, leaders of an international summit say.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Human gene-editing research, even on embryos, is needed and should go ahead, with one major caveat: No pregnancies can result, leaders of an international summit on the topic said December 3.

In recent years, scientists have devised increasingly precise molecular scissors for cutting and pasting DNA. These tools, especially the guided scissors known as CRISPR/Cas9, have become so cheap and easy to use that it may be possible to use them to correct genetic diseases.

Many see the technology as a medical boon; others, though, say that the prospect of designer babies and tinkering with the DNA of future generations should be out of bounds (SN: 5/30/15, p. 16). The U.S. National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the United Kingdom’s Royal Society

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