Prominent “gene editing” scientists have called for a freeze on genetic experiments that alter the DNA of human sperm, eggs and embryos. Concern in the scientific community spread following publication of an article in the MIT Technology Review that chronicled efforts of three groups to genetically alter human embryos.
The concerned scientists published a plea titled “Don’t edit the human germ line” in the journal Nature (the article can be viewed at http://www.nature.com/news/don-t-edit-the-human-germ-line-1.17111). This group of scientists is involved in experiments involving genome-editing in non-reproductive cells. They fear that unlike their work, the implications of editing the DNA of human embryos will have irreversible repercussions that could be passed to future generations. They note that modifying the DNA of human reproductive cells could be used for cosmetic rather than therapeutic purposes. This raises ethical and safety concerns.
The scientists call for an agreement within the community to ban modifying the DNA of human reproductive cells.