Poll: heritable CRISPR tried in humans in next 10 years?


Heritable CRISPR to be tried in humans sooner or later…or never?

heritable CRISPR baby

Will someone somewhere in the world try to use CRISPR gene editing or related technology to introduce heritable genetic changes into actual human beings in the next decade?

I’m not talking about gene editing viable human embryos just for research which is already ongoing, but rather CRISPR’ing human embryos to then use to try to make babies who grow up to be adult humans with a specific genetic change.

How likely is this? Take our poll above to voice your opinion and weigh in with comments too.

Keep in mind that for the above poll that there is no ethical or moral judgement here about whether it’d be a good idea or permissible, just prediction on whether it will be tried.

To further clarify, I’m talking about efforts at doing this whether authorized by regulatory officials or not. I’m also focusing on the question of some researchers trying to do this, whether they succeed or not and regardless of the gene editing target (e.g. disease prevention vs. trait modification).

A wildcard here is that people may try this (or maybe already be trying this, but hopefully not) and the public may never be informed about it, especially if it isn’t entirely successful.


  1. I would eat my hat if by 2028 this hasn’t occurred somewhere in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised to know by then that it will be common. Technology across the board is progressing ridiculously fast. Our tools are getting to be advanced enough to understand the mechanisms of the cells and to decode the “language” of the cells. I’d put my money on Japan or China being the leader in this. They don’t have the same concerns about it as we do here, The leaders of the country recognize the competitive potential. Not to mention the economic need to find a work around for the growing elderly population.

  2. There’s a big difference between “try” and “succeed,” especially if to count as a success there has to be a specific predicted change and no unpredicted effect. So I cheated and voted “probably” when I actually think someone will try.

  3. Talking about ethics? You should ask people with genetic defects who could be healed by gene therapy or CRISPR. Do you think it is ethically to not heal (or prevent) these defects as soon it is possible?

    • Speaking of biomedical ethics…, money, in my opinion, seems to be the driving force in the United States. Calvin Coolidge once said that the business of America is business. He did not say that the business of America is business…with the exception of bio-medical research,development and practice. My take on this is that if the biomedical industries like the drug companies and device manufacturers find it is in their best bottom line interest to make CRISPR technology widely available, then they will make that happen. Otherwise CRISPR in the U.S. will stay on the bench with no horizon to the continual funding of yet more seemingly never ending research. I believe that this scenario will get presented to the public as a way of receiving more money in the form of grants for more research. No doubt, some gradual and incremental progress toward clinical trials utilizing CRISPR technology will slowly inch forward. But I believe that a glitch or glitches will take place forcing our scientists to go back to the drawing board…again and again. This incrementalism will, in my opinion, predictably be touted as necessary for the safety of the American Public. Meanwhile the business of medicine and research will continue with more grant proposals, building more laboratories and keeping the machinery well oiled with published papers. Therapies in the U.S. will always be 5-10 years away because 5 years is a short enough time to make the vulnerable hopeful and 10 years is a long enough time for them to forget about it entirely. If treatments off shore become a reality, they will be denigrated state side as predatory in a manner similar to how autologous therapies already have. I hope I am wrong.

  4. We need to keep a watch on athletes’ DNA who are winning international sports such as the Olympics. Tiny and heritable changes to (for example) Oxygen uptake or testosterone level could produce super strength and endurance. If these athletes were new then there would be no record of the modifications. Some countries will likely be using CRISPR to do this now.

  5. 10 years?? It’s going to happen much sooner. Efficient human embryo editing has already been demonstrated, homogeneous across all cells in the blastocyst, and IVF is quite advanced. I guarantee you it is happening now. Pandora’s Box is open. People are already using medical tourism for tissue-specific gene editing (checkout Liz Parrish). Would be absurd to think no one is doing embryo today with intention of bringing to term.

    Personally I can’t wait to see all the germline mutations that are going to happen. I want Hedgehog and Wnt and other developmental pathways hacked to their fullest. I want to see humans with extra appendages, perhaps even wings. When I’m 150, I want to be at a restaurant with my great great grandkids and I want it to look like a Star Wars scene. So much capital is flowing into the space, it’s inevitable. Fear will dissipate quickly.

    If as a society, we think it’s ethical to breed animals like pugs–which seem to be in respiratory distress their entire lives–then why not people (another animal)? And why not speed up the arduous trait selection process with engineering? Sure, the “fidelity” of the human germline will be in danger, and some engineered embryos won’t be viable or may have an unfortunate phenotype, but that already happens! Presumably, our control over gene editing will advance to identify and fix the “bugs,” and it better advance because Gene Drive works way too well in certain organisms and it will be optimized for mammals soon.

    Finally, we’re already destroying the planet and the other species around us, so let’s at least make our own demise exciting!! And if you think legislation will stop any of this, well that’s just amusing. Don’t want on board? No problem, but it’s likely your kids will be at a competitive disadvantage. We live in exciting times with lots of choices.

  6. Reproductive CRISPR will be tried in non-human primates within the five next years. I anticipate the use of CRISPR-modified iPSC lines and then gamete differentiation rather than direct embryon modifications.
    Depending on the results, people will be tempted to jump to human trials…

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