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About Heritable Human Genome Editing

What is it about?

Human Heritable Genome Editing (HHGE) refers to molecular techniques which are used to alter gene sequences in early-stage embryos or germ cells (sperm and egg cells). These modifications generated by the CRISPR technique will affect all cells of the potential future child and also be passed on to future generations. 

 

The main argument in support of this technology is that it would be used to prevent the transmission of diseases from one generation to the other. Human Heritable Genome Editing (HHGE), does not treat, cure, or prevent disease in any individual. Its application intendes  the creation of embryos with altered genomes, which would also pass on their altered genes to future generations. Is it ethically acceptable to use this technology in order to "design" future babies?

In contrast Somatic Cell Genome Editing is performed in the non-reproductive cells and may contribute to treat diseases in existing individuals. Changes made by somatic genome therapy are not be passed down to future generations. Somatic Cell Genome Editing will not be discussed largely in this Website. 

Why this HHGE Project?

This project is part of my PhD thesis:

  • This website aims to engage the broad public in an interactive discussion about HHGE. This project offers  the opportunity to learn about Germline Editing, discuss it online, and reflect on the societal implications of Germline Editing on the future of humanity.

  • Conference 2022: Five experts had covered different aspects of Human Heritable Germline Editing (HHGE). Participants did discuss the potential societal implications of Germline Editing. Notes from the discussions and reflections are posted on the website.

HHGE poses many ethical and social challenges. Decisions on HHGE and its consequences should not be left to the scientists alone, but  should include the public. The public should not only be informed about HHGE but included in the decisions relating to the application of HHGE.

 

Reasons for public engagement

 The public has to be allowed to participate in the discussions of risk and benefit of HHGE. To strengthen democratic governance inclusive public debate is required.

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