The Future Of Crispr/Cas9: Ensuring Safe And Ethical Human Gene Editing
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CRISPR/Cas9 is a relatively recent development in biotechnology that makes it simpler than ever before to add and remove genes from groups of cells. Most treatments currently in development target specific populations of somatic cells, and as such are not heritable and are relatively limited in their long-term effects. However, efforts to genetically modify human embryos have also recently taken place—if successful, these changes would affect the entire human cell population and be fully heritable. Such modifications introduce a host of social and ethical issues and lend validity to concerns that gene editing could be adapted for eugenics. This paper addresses the danger that germ-line editing technology poses and examines potential difficulties facing regulators who may hope to ameliorate its effects. Ultimately scientists should attempt to develop an internationally standardized agreement outlining what kinds of gene editing experiments are and are not permitted; until this is possible, they should try to achieve an informal general consensus through regular international conferences and encourage regulation that mirrors this consensus wherever possible.