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Human DNA Editing to Prevent Serious Conditions a Future Possibility

Image: Human DNA Editing to Prevent Serious Conditions a Future Possibility

A new report says editing human DNA may be permissible in the future. (Kts/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 15 Feb 2017 09:03 PM

The idea of editing the DNA in a human embryo to prevent serious conditions took a baby step forward Tuesday when an international committee called together by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, D.C., said the procedure could be allowed in the future.

The committee said a clinical trial of the procedure "might be permitted, but only following much more research" into the risks and benefits of the procedure, which should only be used in "rare circumstances and with safeguards in place," Science magazine reported.

“They have closed to door to the vast majority of germline applications and left it open for a very small, well-defined subset,” said Broad Institute genome researcher Eric Lander, according to Science. “That’s not unreasonable in my opinion.”

As recently as December 2015, scientists at an NAS meeting said it would be “irresponsible” to use DNA editing to correct diseases until safety and other issues could be assured, Reuters reported.

A new technology called CRISPR-Cas9 can trim away parts of the genome and replace it with new DNA. Both the Broad Institute and the University of California would like to control the patent to the CRISPR technology, Reuters said.

Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society was disappointed by the softening of the U.S. stance on DNA editing, however, saying that it “constitute(s) a green light for proceeding with efforts to modify the human germline,” Reuters reported, and that the potentially harmful changes produced could be passed down to future generations.

Many scientists worry DNA editing of human embryos will be used to create “designer babies” with certain characteristics.

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The idea of editing the DNA in a human embryo to prevent serious conditions took a baby step forward Tuesday when an international committee called together by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine said the procedure could be allowed in the future.
human, dna, editing
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2017-03-15
Wednesday, 15 Feb 2017 09:03 PM
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