Expert on genetic technologies from Warwick Medical School, Dr Felicity Boardman, comments on the claims by a Chinese scientist that the world's first genetically edited babies have been created.
“It is important to consider the safety concerns raised by Julian Savulescu and that genome editing has primarily been suggested as a means to ‘correct’ genetic disease in an embryo, so using the technologies for the purposes of ‘vaccinating’ the girls against HIV (the efficacy of using genome editing to do this rather than other methods of HIV prevention is also somewhat dubious) takes the debate off on a bit of a tangent in terms of the ethics.
“Whilst few dispute that the ultimate aim of genome editing in humans is disease prevention, it becomes more ethically complex when the risk of developing the condition, in this case HIV, for these particular embryos was not clear cut.
“To risk the harms of off-target mutations for a condition that may never actually occur is ethically problematic and pushes at the boundaries of one of the key tenants of medical practice - to do no harm.”
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