The concept of genome editing has been around since the 1960s but, in recent years, a new technology known as CRISPR, has significantly advanced our capabilities. Therefore the exhaustive report published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, is particularly timely and important.
As a technique CRISPR has shown the remarkable properties of being efficient, quick, easy to use and affordable – thereby opening up new avenues of biomedical research and speculation about its use in clinical practice.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences commented:
"The Academy supports the continued use of these techniques in basic and preclinical research as they have huge potential to accelerate medical research, and progress our understanding of human biology and disease.
"However, to reap the full potential CRISPR promises, especially in the clinic, research should be accompanied by an ongoing and open dialogue around the scientific and ethical aspects of potential applications.
"We welcome the inquiries on genome editing to prevent transmission of inheritable diseases and in livestock to increase food production announced by the Council today and look forward to the Academy and our Fellows contributing as we did for the initial consultation that informed this report."