This week the US National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a new report on genome editing, Academy President, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci commented:
“This is a thoughtful report on an incredibly complex issue and we are encouraged by its conclusions and recommendations.
“The UK Academy of Medical Sciences continues to support the use of genome editing techniques in basic and preclinical research, due to their potential to accelerate our understanding of human biology and disease. Any use of genome editing, however, must occur within an appropriate regulatory framework, and the UK already has robust regulations in place.
“The use of genome editing also has the potential to unlock new benefits for patients. Research is progressing for non-hereditary cell genome editing and the technique is moving towards the clinic as a new form of gene therapy. This report is notable in also addressing germline therapy and providing the principles to proceed with research and debate.
“The Academy recognises that, although safety and ethical concerns remain, the use of germline genome editing holds significant clinical potential in some, very rare cases. We agree that research in this area may be possible in the near future and should not be banned, but does need to be closely regulated and developed in partnership with patients.
“We welcome the overarching set of principles for all genome editing research proposed by the report. Ongoing public and patient debate about the acceptability of such work is vital to guide future research.