Ethics of CRISPR and Embryos: Should We Genetically Modify Children?
For thirty years a moral boundary been drawn between somatic cell and germline gene modification. Recently that boundary has been re-considered, while new techniques in gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9 have become increasingly popular in cell biology. Public funds for embryo research have been limited in the United States, but private funding is amply available. The British have approved a technique called nuclear transplantation, which will produce a baby with three genomes to protect it from mitochondrial disease. The Chinese have been using CRISPR/Cas9 experimentally on human embryos. In August 2017, Nature published the first study carried out in the United States where human embryos with a recessive gene were modified and repaired. The talk will address the shifting moral boundary for genetic engineering of human gametes and embryos and the gray zone between therapy and enhancement, where enhancement includes germline modifications for longevity.