In this week's Nature, genome editing specialists from seven countries call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing pending the creation of a voluntary governance framework to guide use of the technology. Citing events such as the recently reported use of germline editing by a Chinese researcher to create two babies, the scientists argue for a temporary ban on the process while technical, scientific, medical, societal, ethical, and moral issues are considered. Countries should ultimately be free to pursue specific applications of germline editing, they write, while proceeding "openly and with due respect to the opinions of humankind" and giving consideration to and international panel that would provide nations with clear, comprehensive, and objective information about relevant issues. "The framework we are calling for will place major speed bumps in front of the most adventurous plans to re-engineer the human species," they write. "But the risks of the alternative — which include harming patients and eroding public trust — are much worse." The Scan and GenomeWeb have more on this,
And in Nature Biotechnology, members of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health present a benchmarking framework for variant calling. The scientists provide guidance on how to match variant calls with different representations, define standard performance metrics, and stratify performance by variant type and genome context. They also describe limitations of high-confidence calls and regions that can be used as truth sets, describe a web-based app for the comparison of variant calls against truth sets to obtain a standardized performance report, and recommend a set of best practices for using their tools and evaluating the results.