US Scientists May Soon Be Allowed To Do Gene Editing In Humans

First Posted: Feb 15, 2017 04:57 AM EST

Gene editing in humans is one of the most controversial and supposedly unethical outcomes of scientific research. This is why the U.S. government had banned it inside the country and stopped funding research projects that involve human gene manipulation. However, after considering its possible therapeutic implications and the fact that gene editing research is gaining a lot of accreditation among researchers in other countries, including China, it is expected that the ban may soon be lifted.

With the advent of more advanced and precise gene editing tools, such as the CRISPR/Cas9 method, gene editing has become significantly simple and precise. All these methods are primarily studied and developed to cure chronic incurable diseases like cancer. However, they can also be employed to edit human genome and produce mutant babies, which is not only unethical but poses a risk for the very existence of mankind and destroys the sanctity of nature, Gizmodo reported.

Considering all such allegations, the U.S. government stopped funding such research projects years ago. However, after the news of Chinese scientists making gene edited human embryos surfaced, it stirred the discussion on whether the U.S. should also venture in such research projects for more ethical and life saving implications. It seems like they may soon be allowed to do so, WABE 90.1 reported.

A recently released report by The National Academies of Sciences and Medicine indicated that the government may soon lift the ban, and the U.S. scientists will be encouraged to work on gene editing in humans. Before doing so, they have to ensure that the changes will not be affecting any other genes not associated with the disease.

The academy urged that scientists should be more responsible and careful while doing such studies. It was also recommended that gene editing in humans should be considered as a last resort and should be done only if no other effective modes of treatment are available.

Scientists across the nation seem to be in agreement with the academy's recommendations. Eric Lander, Director of the Broad Institute under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, said, "It's important to be extraordinarily cautious on technologies that could leave a permanent mark on the human population for all generations to come."

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