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Influential science group releases guidelines for human gene editing




Graduate student Jennifer Klunk of McMaster University examines a tooth used to decode the genome of the ancient plague.
Graduate student Jennifer Klunk of McMaster University examines a tooth used to decode the genome of the ancient plague.
NPR/Courtesy of McMaster University

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A science advisory group from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine this week released guidelines on the use of human genetic engineering.

Human gene editing is a controversial subject matter, and the panel’s endorsement is limited only to prevent serious diseases and disability in babies, and in cases where no other “reasonable alternatives” are available.

Experiments in human genetic engineering won’t likely become a reality in the immediate future, according to The New York Times. But a new technology called Crispr-Cas9 has made it easier for researchers to alter genetic information.

The panel’s new guidelines came a year after an international group of scientists strongly condemned the use of human genetic engineering under any circumstances.

Guests:

Jeff Kahn, one of the authors of the new guidelines and Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University

Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public interest group based in Berkeley, Calif.