A CRISPR Baby Future?

What will it take for CRISPR babies to become medically acceptable?

Earlier this month, an international commission of scientists released a highly anticipated report detailing the steps needed to turn a gene-editing fiasco into a powerful treatment that could wipe out genetic diseases throughout generations.

The conclusion: Editing the genome of human embryos to make CRISPR babies isn’t yet safe. But as the technology matures, it could be, and there will be countries that greenlight the procedure. The first sanctioned CRISPR baby experiments should be narrowly restricted to couples who otherwise cannot have healthy children—a relatively rare pool of people—and likely require international, collaborative supervision.

The report stands out in that it doesn’t explicitly discuss moral and ethical issues related to CRISPR babies. It also doesn’t weigh in on the merits of the technology or whether there should be a global moratorium. Rather, the report envisions a world where CRISPR babies will eventually be allowed, and digs into the nitty-gritty of technical and oversight requirements for the procedure to become medically acceptable.

As Dr. Richard Lifton, co-chair of the commission said, the report acts as a manual for a “staged rollout of” CRISPR babies, with a focus on safety first and foremost.

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