The ethics of CRISPR gene editing with Jennifer Doudna

The ethics of CRISPR gene editing with Jennifer Doudna

September 21, 2019 7 By Stanley Isaacs


– I have thought a lot about the way that the CRISPR technology might be used, and, I mostly feel excited,
because, I think that it’s a very, a very exciting technology
that’s going to do a lot of good in human
society, and for human health. I do think that there are
reasons to be cautious in the way we implement
it for various things, in particular for doing
clinical applications in embryos, like human embryos. If you do the editing in adult tissues, those are changes that
are made in an individual, but they’re not passed on to children. I think most people would
feel that genome editing in adults is, or at least
might be for some applications, a very appropriate technology. It might be analogous to taking a pill, or any other kind of therapeutic drug that you might use in a
patient for treating cancer or some other disease, and if you could do something profound like
eliminate sickle cell anemia, or eliminate cystic fibrosis, or have someone not have to suffer from Huntington’s disease
anymore, or worry about getting it when they get older. What certainly raises
ethical implications, is whether that sort of
change should be made in eggs or sperm or embryos, where those changes could then be passed on to the next generation. (indistinct talking) So I feel that it’s
appropriate with guidelines, to conduct research in
those kinds of systems, even in human embryos. I don’t think that it
would be appropriate to use this technology, at least
today, for any kind of clinical application in human embryos. The science is going 1000 miles
an hour, one of the roles that we as scientists need to
play is to really communicate the power of this technology and how we can be responsible in using it. For that conversation to
carry weight globally, it really needs to be a
conversation that involves scientists that are international. Do we know enough about the human genome to understand the impact
of making changes to it in a developing embryo? And so I think that
there I would like to see our society draw a line and
say that we won’t go there, right now, we’ll take
the time that we need to really think about this.