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Criteria Not Yet Met

A new report finds heritable human genome editing is not yet ready for clinical use, as GenomeWeb reports.

Following He Jiankui's 2018 announcement that he used the CRISPR gene editing tool to alter the CCR5 gene of twin girls as embryos to make them immune to HIV infection, US National Academy of Medicine's Victor Dzau, the US National Academy of Sciences' Marcia McNutt, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Chunli Bai wrote an editorial in Science that called on the international scientific community to develop standards governing germline editing and a commission was assembled last year.

The resulting report from the International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing now lays out 11 recommendations, the first of which says there should be no effort to establish a pregnancy using a human embryo that has undergone genome editing until the approach has been shown to be efficient and reliable. It adds that "[t]hese criteria have not yet been met."

"It came out very clearly that the science is not ready for clinical application, in fact far from it," Rockefeller University's Richard Lifton, a co-chair of the commission, tells the Guardian. "There are many gaps that need to be addressed before we believe it would be reasonable to go forward with any clinical effort."

As the Associated Press notes, the report does establish a path for countries that want to pursue heritable human genome editing. In particular, it recommends gene editing be limited to serious monogenic diseases, Wired adds.

The AP adds that a different report expected later this year from the World Health Organization is to tackle the ethical ramifications of human germline editing.