UN To Track Gene-Edited Humans

By Pam Belluck, March 19, 2019

The New York Times – An influential committee of the World Health Organization [an agency of the United Nations] said on Tuesday that it would be “irresponsible” to try to create babies from gene-edited human embryos.

The panel called for an international registry to track all research into editing the human genome.

The committee was created in the wake of the birth of the first gene-edited babies — the result of an experiment by a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, who genetically altered human embryos and implanted them in a woman who gave birth to twins last fall.

His actions stirred alarm among other researchers, ethicists, and policymakers, because so little is known about the safety and health effects of editing the genome of a human embryo.

Many fear that the technology could be misused to create “designer babies” genetically altered to heighten physical features, intelligence or athletic prowess.

Scientific and medical institutions in the United States and around the world have pledged to establish clear guidelines and a system to monitor such research.

On Tuesday, after its first meeting, the W.H.O. committee outlined some of the steps it intends to take.

“The committee agrees that it is irresponsible at this time for anyone to proceed with clinical applications of human germline genome editing … ” Read more. 

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