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Pause to Plan

While it's OK to feel "a little freaked out" that genome editing tools have been applied to human cells, Nick Stockton at Wired also advises taking a step back to remember the disease-preventing possibilities such a technology may offer.

However, he worries that genome editing be treated like embryonic stem cell research is in the US and become off-limits to federally funded researchers and instead leave funding and the legality of such work up to the states. The National Institutes of Health has said that it won't fund germline-editing research.

Right now, many researchers are calling for caution, but most of them, rather than wanting to impose a restriction on research into uses of such tools instead want to pause to figure out what the best way forward is before plowing ahead, Stockton says.

"Figuring out the efficacy and safety of embryonic gene editing means years and years of research. Boring research," he says, though sprinkled with occasional glimmers of what might be possible.

And, he notes, that potential includes being able to "genetically vaccinate our species against thousands of harmful diseases — everything from Alzheimer's to cystic fibrosis."