27 February 2019

Editing Rules

WHO has established a human gene editing committee

Sergey Kolenov, Hi-tech+

The new body should develop international principles for editing the human genome and assess the consequences of the mass introduction of technology. But it is too early to talk about the creation of a "genetic police".

After the end of last year from China received news about the birth of the first genetically edited children, many experts spoke in favor of stricter regulation of resonance technology. And the World Health Organization announced the convening of a group of experts to develop recommendations for editing the human genome.

As reported by Popular Science, last week the WHO gene editing committee was finally convened. It included 18 experts from all over the world and two chairs. The Council will consider scientific, ethical, social and legal issues related to interference in the human genome. The new body should complement the work of the existing bioethics committee working within UNESCO.

However, it is not yet clear whether the committee will consider only embryo editing or any medical applications of CRISPR.

The first meeting of the committee will be held in Geneva in mid-March. At it, experts will develop a work plan for drawing up guidelines.

Unfortunately, even if the WHO committee manages to develop universal rules for editing the human genome, it does not have the tools to monitor their implementation. However, the development of guidelines will allow WHO member countries to create their own rules based on them. This is an important step forward.

Experts hope that these principles will be clear and they will not be interpreted freely – for example, justifying risky experiments with benefits for humanity. In addition, they will pave the way for international cooperation in human genome editing research.

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