Human germline genome editing is illegal in Canada, but could it be desirable for some members of the rare disease community?
Human germline genome editing may prove to be especially poignant for members of the rare disease community, many of whom are diagnosed with monogenic diseases. This community lacks broad representation in the literature surrounding genome editing, notably in Canada, yet is likely to be directly affected by eventual clinical applications of this technology. Although not generalizable, the literature does offer some commonalities regarding the experiences of rare disease patients. This manuscript seeks to contribute to the search for broader societal dialogue surrounding human germline genome editing by exploring some of those commonalities that comfort the notion that CRISPR may hold promise or be desirable for some members of this community. We first explore the legal and policy context surrounding germline genome editing, focusing closely on Canada, then provide an overview of the common challenges experienced by members of the rare disease community, and finally assess the opportunities of germline genome editing vis-a-vis rare disease as we advocate for the need to more actively engage with the community in our search for public engagement.