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Congress Attempts to Stave off Human Germline Editing Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A US House of Representatives committee has added language to a draft Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill that would prevent federal funds from being used to even evaluate research on genetically modifying human embryos.

The Committee on Appropriation's Fiscal Year 2016 bill for the FDA states that "[n]one of the funds made available by this Act may be used to review or approve an application for an exemption for investigational use of a drug or biological product [as defined by US law] [AH1] in research in which a human embryo is intentionally created or modified to include a heritable genetic modification."

The move comes after some of the most prominent voices in government have expressed support for a limit on human germline editing in the wake of a report that scientists edited non-viable human zygotes with CRISPR/Cas9. In April, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins declared in a statement that "NIH will not fund any use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos."

In May, The White House Blog ran a post stating, "The Administration believes that altering the human germline for clinical purposes is a line that should not be crossed at this time."