NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, has announced that the agency will not fund gene-editing technologies in human embryos. The strong arguments against gene-editing, he said, include serious and unquantifiable safety issues, ethical issues that arise by altering human DNA in a way that can be inherited without consent of the next generation, and a current lack of compelling medical applications justifying the use of gene-editing techniques in embryos. Read the statement.
In related news, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine are launching a major initiative to guide decision-making about research involving human gene editing. A multidisciplinary, international committee will be appointed to explore the associated scientific, ethical, and policy issues and recommend guidelines for gene-editing technologies.