ISSCR Comments on U.S. Study to Correct Disease Genes in Human Embryos

  • 2 August, 2017

study published 2 August, 2017 in the scientific journal Nature details the first use of CRISPR technology in the U.S. to correct a disease-causing genetic defect in very early stage human embryos created through in vitro fertilization. The embryos were not used for reproductive purposes and were not allowed to develop for more than a few days.

The ISSCR recognizes that the application of nuclear genome editing technology in the laboratory provides tremendous opportunities to understand human biology and disease, but cautions that any clinical application to human germ line modification or human embryos used in fertility treatment should not go forward at the present time without careful deliberation on the significant ethical, societal, and safety considerations involved.

In its 2016 Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation (Section 2.1), the ISSCR calls for broad public and international dialogue on the capabilities and limitations of these technologies and the implications of applying them to the human germ line. The ISSCR supports the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) position suggesting more research is needed before appropriate risk and benefit standards are met for clinical trials.

“The ISSCR supports laboratory-based research that involves editing of the nuclear genomes of human sperm, eggs, or embryos, but that is only when it is performed under rigorous review and oversight, as suggested in our international guidelines,” said ISSCR president Hans Clevers. “We do not support any clinical application of human germ line or embryo editing at this time,” he said.