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The Hinxton Group, which formed in 2006 to contemplate stem cell-related issues, says research into human genome editing is justified, ScienceInsider reports.

Some 30 group members from eight countries met last week to weigh the scientific and ethical issues of applying gene-editing approaches to human cells, particularly to embryonic or stem cells.

In a consensus statement, the Hinxton Group says genome editing has "tremendous value" to address both basic and clinical research questions and argues that research into the technique should continue.

"[I]t is our conviction that concerns about human genome editing for clinical reproductive purposes should not halt or hamper application to scientifically defensible basic research," the statement says.

The Hinxton Group notes, though, that genome editing, particularly CRISPR/Cas9 editing, "is not sufficiently developed to consider human genome editing for clinical reproductive purposes at this time."

But some day when safety, efficacy, and other standards are met, the group says "there may be morally acceptable uses of this technology in human reproduction, though further substantial discussion and debate will be required."

As Reuters notes, the US National Institutes of Health currently does not fund the use of gene-editing tools on human embryos. Back in April, around the time researchers in China reported their attempt to apply CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to non-viable embryos, NIH Director Francis Collins said that altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes "has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed."

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