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Gene Editing Regulations Reconsidered

The UK is to consider changing how gene-edited crops and livestock are regulated, the Financial Times reports, adding that the move would be a "significant" departure from European Union policy.

George Eustice, the UK secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs, announced yesterday a 10-week plan to examine regulating gene editing differently from genetic modifications, according to FT. In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled gene editing is a type of genetic modification and, as such, is subject to strict regulations. But following its departure from the EU, the UK is re-thinking how gene-edited crops and livestock might be regulated, FT adds.

According to the Guardian, a number of scientists have praised the consultation. "As well as improving animals' ability to respond to disease, gene editing could also be used to create fitter, healthier animals with higher standards of animal welfare," Mick Watson from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh tells it. "[This] could place cutting-edge technology at the heart of UK livestock improvement."

However, others worry that changing the regulations could harm animal welfare, particularly if gene-editing is used to develop disease-resistant livestock that are then kept in overcrowded conditions, the Guardian adds.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.