Research to edit the human genome should go ahead, say leading UK science bodies

02 September 15

written by:

Ade Deane-Pratt

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A joint statement calls for a broad and inclusive discussion about the future implications.

A group of leading UK research organisations has issued a joint statement to say that preclinical research that involves editing the human genome should continue. This would include using the technology for research purposes in human reproductive cells and early embryos, where this is fully justified, scientifically and ethically, and within the law.

Genome editing is a powerful technology that has the potential to improve health. It means that sections of DNA from a genome can be replaced or removed precisely using ‘molecular scissors’. Using these tools is already having a game-changing effect on research to improve understanding of the roles specific genes and processes play in health and disease. In the future, these tools might also be used in the clinic to prevent or treat lethal and/or seriously debilitating genetic diseases.

The statement is signed by the Academy of Medical Science (AMS), the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust. It says that this type of research to be allowed to continue and calls for a broad and inclusive discussion about genome-editing and its future implications.

Read the full statement on the Wellcome Trust website.