Ethical Issues in gene-editing using Crispr/Cas9

23 February 2017


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The opinion analyzes the CRISPR-Cas9 technique within the context of the recent new highly innovative techniques in genetic engineering, capable of modifying the DNA sequences of living organisms with high precision, relative
ease and low cost, After a scientific description of the gene-editing technique, the document focuses on the peculiarities of the technique, the potentialities, risks and possible applications in the context of the current emerging bioethical debate
within the scientific sphere.
Certain points in common and differences arise from the discussion within the Committee.
The Committee welcomes in vitro and animal testing, in accordance with international rules, in order to test the safety and efficacy of technologies and considers it ethically desirable to increase research on human somatic cells both in laboratory research as well as in clinical or in-vivo research.
As regards human germline gene “editing”, it considers experimentation on gametes intended for use in conception and human embryos for implantation to be illicit, it agrees on the opportunity provided by the moratorium on clinical
research or in vivo research, in order to attain the necessary conditions for safety and effectiveness of the technique.
The Committee expresses opposite views on gene-editing experiments in the laboratory on gametes not intended for use in reproduction and in vitro embryos not intended for implantation: some are in favour, others against on
the basis of opposing arguments.
The Appendix provides a brief history of genetic engineering to outline the context of the birth of gene editing and an analysis of key international documents, as well as national legislation.

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