Guest Editors: Lu Xiao-Jie and Ji Li-Juan, Tetsuya Ishii; Germ line genome editing in clinics: the approaches, objectives and global society. Brief Funct Genomics 2017; 16 (1): 46-56. doi: 10.1093/bfgp/elv053
Genome editing allows for the versatile genetic modification of somatic cells, germ cells and embryos. In particular, CRISPR/Cas9 is worldwide used in biomedical research. Although the first report on Cas9-mediated gene modification in human embryos focused on the prevention of a genetic disease in offspring, it raised profound ethical and social concerns over the safety of subsequent generations and the potential misuse of genome editing for human enhancement. The present article considers germ line genome editing approaches from various clinical and ethical viewpoints and explores its objectives. The risks and benefits of the following three likely objectives are assessed: the prevention of monogenic diseases, personalized assisted reproductive technology (ART) and genetic enhancement. Although genetic enhancement should be avoided, the international regulatory landscape suggests the inevitability of this misuse at ART centers. Under these circumstances, possible regulatory responses and the potential roles of public dialogue are discussed.
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