The scientific world shook when a scientist named “He Jiankui” edited the gene of two babies using CRISPR technique. The well-known technology till now was treated as a boon. But soon after this event, many questions were raised on misuse of this technique.
The scientific community came together to condemn his experiment. However, there is one stratum of society which had a different reaction – “fertility clinics”. Many fertility clinics have approached the scientist – He Jiankui for help, with the expectation of extending their services.
There are a number of clinics which approached He Jiankui. This indicates the interest of fertility clinics in offering gene editing services. William Hurlbut from Stanford University, who was the advisor of He Jiankui on the ethics of gene editing has confirmed about the emails received from various clinics.
No doubt about the huge application of CRISPR in biological science to cure many diseases. However, there are certain limitations. No scientific technology has yet got the right to cross the boundaries of ethical rules and regulations. Using CRISPR for gene editing of babies raises many ethical questions. Though many fertility clinics are showing interest in extending the services for gene editing, it’s difficult at the moment. This is because the gene editing in human embryos can have severe consequences, which we are not yet ready to face.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been working towards governing the genome editing practices. In light of this, WHO has formed an Advisory Committee to develop uniform Global Standards for regulating human genome editing. Also, many other institutes and organization have come together to form an international commission to address genome editing related concerns. The institute includes the US National Academy of Medicine, The US National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of the UK, along with other Institutions.
The various organizations across the world are taking necessary steps to streamline regulation for the Human gene editing. Well, to an extent these regulations will be helpful in following the necessary ethical guidelines. However, as a part of the scientific community, we should be aware of our limitations of using a technology that can have a severe impact on any life, specifically when it comes to using animal embryos.
Where scientific interventions are important to pave new discoveries to treat diseases, we should not forget about the ethical boundaries set ahead of us. The news of fertility clinics seeking help raises many questions. It’s debatable and therefore this article looks forward to your views regarding the use of gene editing in humans.