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Not Yet For the Clinic

It would be irresponsible to move forward with clinical applications of germline genome editing, the World Health Organization says in a statement.

In saying this, the WHO adds that is accepting an interim recommendation made in March by an advisory committee it convened.

The health agency announced last December, on the heels of the revelation that researcher He Jiankui had edited the genomes of two twin girls as embryos, that it would be convening a panel to develop standards and guidelines for gene editing. In March, the panel — which was co-chaired by Margaret Hamburg, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, and Edwin Cameron, a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa — advocated that WHO establish a registry of human germline gene-editing projects, but also said any human gene-editing work should be confined to research and not yet be moved to the clinic.

"Human germline genome editing poses unique and unprecedented ethical and technical challenges," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says in a statement. "I have accepted the interim recommendations of WHO's Expert Advisory Committee that regulatory authorities in all countries should not allow any further work in this area until its implications have been properly considered."