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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

New call to ban gene-edited babies divides biologists – Science (Jon Cohen | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 15, 2019
 

A prominent group of 18 scientists and bioethicists from seven countries has called for a global “moratorium” on introducing heritable changes into human sperm, eggs, or embryos—germline editing—to make genetically altered children. The group, which published a commentary in Nature today, hopes to influence a long-standing debate that dramatically intensified after China’s He Jiankui announced in November 2018 that he used the genome editor CRISPR to try to alter the genes of babies to be resistant to the AIDS virus.

The consequences of inheritable gene line editing for humanity and the arguments for continued research/treatments for inheritable diseases are not simple matters, but they need to be approached thoughtfully. Arguing over the semantics of the word moratorium isn’t helpful. We have included the call in Nature for a moratorium and a list of related items.

Their call, which is endorsed in the same issue of Nature by Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is a departure from statements issued by two global summits on genome editing in 2015 and 2018, a 2017 report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), and a 2018 report from the United Kingdom’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics. None has banned human germline editing, and most have stressed that it holds promise to help correct some heritable diseases. All have warned against using germline editing for cognitive or physical “enhancement” of people. Scientists including Nobel laureate David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena remain opposed to a moratorium. Even in the wake of the He incident, Baltimore, who helped organize the summits, denounced such a ban as “draconian” and “antithetical to the goals of science.”
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Any nation that wants to greenlight a human germline edit by its scientists, the 18 authors declare, should have to give public notice, engage in an international and transparent assessment of whether the intervention is justified, and make sure the work has broad support in their own nation. “Nations might well choose different paths, but they would agree to proceed openly and with due respect to the opinions of humankind on an issue that will ultimately affect the entire species,” they write. They strongly encourage that nonscientific perspectives, including those of people with disabilities and religious groups, be included in the discussion. And they stress that they are not calling for a moratorium on genome editing of somatic cells, which would not affect future generations.
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Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing – Nature (Eric Lander, et al | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 15, 2019
 

We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.

By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.

To begin with, there should be a fixed period during which no clinical uses of germline editing whatsoever are allowed. As well as allowing for discussions about the technical, scientific, medical, societal, ethical and moral issues that must be considered before germline editing is permitted, this period would provide time to establish an international framework.

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The CRISPR-baby scandal: what’s next for human gene-editing – Nature (David Cyranoski | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 12, 2019
 

As concerns surge after a bombshell revelation, here are four questions about this fast-moving field.

In the three months since He Jiankui announced the birth of twin girls with edited genomes, the questions facing the scientific community have grown knottier.

By engineering mutations into human embryos, which were then used to produce babies, He leapt capriciously into an era in which science could rewrite the gene pool of future generations by altering the human germ line. He also flouted established norms for safety and human protections along the way.

There is still no definitive evidence that the biophysicist actually succeeded in modifying the girls’ genes — or those of a third child expected to be born later this year. But the experiments have attracted so much attention that the incident could alter research for years to come.

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Organ transplants from executed Chinese prisoners and research ethics – Radio National ABC (Norman Swan | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 5, 2019
 

Macquarie University researchers say hundreds of journal papers in the transplant field don’t follow ethical guidelines in declaring whether or not their research includes transplants from executed prisoners in China.

The researchers want the papers retracted, saying it creates a moral hazard for the entire field of research.

Guest:
Professor Wendy Rogers

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