Last year, the Chinese geneticist Hae Cisangkuy, despite the ban in force in the territory of China, had a very, very questionable from the standpoint of morality and ethics of experiment on gene editing of human embryonic cells, resulting in the light appeared first Gemini with the edited genome. He Jiankui shared his work at the Second international summit on gene editing. Very soon, most of the world’s academic community condemned he’s actions. And the Chinese government even opened a criminal case against him.
In response to the growing concern about premature introduction of the technology of gene editing in clinical practice, a group of 18 scientists from 7 countries, including two developers of the technology for genome editing CRISPR/Cas, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Feng Zhang, have called for the introduction of a global ban on the use of genetic editing viable human embryos for the birth of CRISPR-people. An open letter calling for a ban on the use of this technology for at least the next 5 years was published in the scientific journal Nature.
The authors of the Manifesto understand the temporary moratorium as a voluntary renunciation of such experiments until a number of conditions are met with confidence. For example, the authors point to the obligation to inform the international community before the approval of such experiments, transparent work to consider applications for such experiments, as well as public discussions about the appropriateness of such experiments.
“Countries may choose to take a different approach, but they must agree to work openly and with respect for public opinion on an issue that ultimately concerns the entire species,” scientists write.
The authors of the appeal especially emphasize that the moratorium should not concern the editing of embryos for scientific purposes without transplanting them into the uterus, as well as the editing of somatic cells for the treatment of diseases.
“Although technology has evolved over the past few years, editing germ line cells is not yet safe or effective enough to use it for clinical purposes. The scientific community agrees that the risk of not receiving the necessary changes or unforeseen mutations is still unacceptably high for such an application. In this direction, significant research work is being carried out, ” the published document says.
The authors also believe that it is necessary to understand the difference between genetic editing, aimed at protecting against potential diseases, and editing, aimed at strengthening certain genetic parameters in humans. According to scientists, the issue of protecting the unborn child from potential diseases is more complex and requires more in-depth discussion. But editing genes to enhance certain abilities of a person, at least at this stage of development of gene modification technology, the authors of the report consider completely unacceptable.
Scientists remind that today couples with a high risk of transmission of mutations that cause a disease, there is a possibility of in vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. The authors of the Manifesto believe that the improvement of these procedures is currently the safest way to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases.
Scientists also emphasize the need to involve a broad public opinion on the issue of gene editing. The speakers believe that decisions on such experiments should not be made only by the scientific community. In addition, they encourage all independent scientists, as well as scientific organizations that have become aware of such experiments or plans to conduct them, to communicate this information to the General public. As a negative example, the speakers cite the case of he – there were people who knew about his work, but they did nothing to stop them.
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