16 October 2020

Bioethics and genetics: Challenges of the XXI century

The expert predicted a revision of the ethical side of genome editing

RIA News

Now a very important shift is being planned to revise the ethical coordinates of the development of genome editing technologies, says Elena Grebenshchikova, Doctor of Philosophy, Head of the Center for Scientific and Information Research on Science, Education and Technology of the INION RAS.

According to her, the ambivalence of the situation is that these are "dual-use technologies", and no one questions their use for medical purposes, but there are goals that go beyond the boundaries of therapy.

"And here the question is – is it possible to use genetic technologies for these purposes? Is it possible to edit a person's genome so that he has not only excellent health, but also eyes of some, I don't know, blue color? But at the same time, he had some other physical indicators that were not given to him. Is it good or bad?" Grebenshchikova said during the All–Russian multimedia conference "Bioethics and Genetics: Challenges of the XXI century" at MIA "Russia Today".

She noted that in the USA the Presidential Council prepared a report "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness", and two years ago in the UK a report of the Bioethics Council was published, which states that editing the genome of the germ line is possible in some cases when the value of this decision is in fairness.

"And here, as many researchers say, a very important shift is now being planned towards a possible revision of the ethical coordinates of the development of dual–use technologies," Grebenshchikova said.

She noted that the problem of "design of children" is "specified by the complexity of the entropological status of the embryo", and since the problems in IVF with the status of the embryo (what is an embryo or who is an embryo) have not been solved, the same problems arise in the "design of children".

Earlier, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020 was awarded to Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer Dudna for developing methods of ultra-precise genome editing. They discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 mechanism – the molecular "immunity" in bacteria, with which they protect themselves from viruses and which they managed to adapt for ultra-precise editing and, as a result, elucidation of the peculiarities of the genomes of different organisms.

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