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Statement Says

The International Summit on Human Gene Editing organizing committee has drawn a distinction between genome editing of somatic cells versus germline cells, as GenomeWeb has reported. As safety issues haven't been fully explored, the committee says germline genome editing would be "irresponsible," but says that existing regulations could be applied to oversee basic and preclinical genome-editing research as well as clinical genome editing of somatic cells.

The statement comes following three days of discussion at a US National Academy of Sciences-hosted summit on genome editing, such as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. As Andrew Han notes at GenomeWeb, the days' discussions have been wide-ranging, touching on topics from how to measure off-target effects to the even more daunting philosophical question of whether such editing should even be done, particularly in the germline and, if it is, whether the results would be worth the risk.

The committee does not, Nature News notes, call for an all-out ban on germline genome editing or basic research using germ cells. "We don't want to slam the door on this idea forever," the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna says.

The organizing committee also emphasized the need for continued discussions "to discuss potential clinical uses of gene editing; help inform decisions by national policymakers and others; formulate recommendations and guidelines; and promote coordination among nations."