Fearful old world? A commentary on the Second International Summit on human genome editing
Genome editing is revolutionising our ability to modify genomes with exquisite precision for medical and agricultural applications, and in basic research. The first International Summit on Human Genome Editing, organised jointly by the US National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the UK Royal Society, was held in Washington DC at the end of 2015. Its aim was to explore scientific, legal and ethical perspectives on the prospective use of human genome editing as a therapeutic intervention in disease (so-called somatic genome editing) and as a possible intervention in human reproduction (so-called germ-line genome editing). Following that Summit, the Organising Committee had, in a press release, come to the conclusion that: “It would be irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germ line editing unless and until (i) the relevant safety and efficacy issues have been resolved, based on appropriate understanding and balancing of risks, potential benefits and alternatives, and (ii) there is broad societal consensus about the appropriateness of the proposed application” (http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12032015a). A report from the US National Academies subsequently reiterated and developed the approach.