The UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology releases a new report on human genome editing

The UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) just released a brand new research briefing about hGGE – human germline genome editing

POST is a legislative body that has been operating within the UK Parliament for 30 years.

The research report maintains the POST’s stance on hGGE, which is against the use of this technology. It details the fact that all changes made to the DNA of human eggs, embryos, and sperm (which together are referred to as germline cells) can be passed down to offspring.

Human germline genome editing is often done in order to create embryos that will be more favourable during IVF. Ironically, hGGE is often carried out to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases. This new research warns against the dangers of this science.

The latest briefing from POST explains some of the techniques currently used for hGGE. It includes potential safety issues and common applications, and details hGGE’s current regulation and governance.

The highlights of the report includes the following information:

  • hGGE refers to the process of editing human DNA i egg, sperm or embryo cells.
  • It can prevent hereditary diseases and disorders.
  • However, there are many unknowns about its use, and experts have ethical concerns about this science.
  • A reported case in China has resulted in twin girls being born.
  • The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulates this type of human genome editing. They have issued a limited license for research on the topics in this country.
  • The law prohibits hGGE being used in IVF treatment in the UK.
  • Gaps in regulations are being apparent over time, as the science advances.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see what technologies and scientific advancements are used to ‘improve’ embryos

One thing is for certain – the HFEA and POST will be there to condemn unethical uses of science to create ‘designer babies’ with unforeseen consequences.

 

What do you think about the recent POST report? Do you think people should be able to use hGGE in any way they see fit, or should there always be limits?

To read the full report click here

 

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