January 23, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

CRISPR ethics

4 min read

It’s an odd confluence of events this week that (A) the Nuffield Council, an ethics think tank, gives a thumbs up in a new report to heritable human genetic modification that would probably include using CRISPR in the same week that (B) a new paper reports that CRISPR can cause unpredictable genomic damage and several other concerning reports about possible CRISPR technology side effects or challenges have come out in the last few months. Talk about bad timing. They would probably counter my intro paragraph by saying …Read More

2 min read

The human embryo CRISPR paper with Shoukhrat Mitalipov as senior author is coming soon. It will reportedly be focused on the use of CRISPR to genetically modify viable human embryos for reversal of a disease-associated mutation. While strangely press already broke early on this paper last week, as much as a week before the paper comes out, and that press suggests very positive data, how clear will that be from the paper itself? Here are some ideas on the big 5 questions (some include …Read More

3 min read

More CRISPR’d human embryos, but this time in America? MIT Tech Review is reporting that Oregon scientist Shoukhrat Mitalipov has used CRISPR on human embryos in his lab in the US. Apparently a paper is in the works on this. While details are sketchy and some specifics remain to be clarified to be sure of what’s the deal here, this Tech Review report appears generally accurate based on what I’ve heard so this appears to be the first reported use of CRISPR on human …Read More

3 min read

The first report of the use of CRISPR gene editing in normal human embryos was published today as a short paper from a team in China. There have been rumors for over a year that more CRISPR human embryo papers were coming including some using normal embryos. Here’s one and we can now expect more even as there remain scientific and ethical discussions about this kind of work. You can read the actual paper Tang, et al. here, published in the journal Molecular Genetics & Genomics. …Read More

3 min read

Last year I heard from several sources that there somewhere between 3-5 unpublished manuscripts reporting the use of CRISPR gene targeting in human embryos being shopped around at various journals in addition to the one that had been published. Since that time we’ve seen a grand total of one additional paper reporting on CRISPR of human embryos. So what gives? Were the sources wrong? I don’t think so and I believe there are additional labs pursuing research on the use of CRISPR in human embryos. …Read More

2 min read

The CRISPR meeting has started off wonderfully with a talk by Ben Hurlbut. His talk was entitled, “The Demands of CRISPR’s World: Imagination, Deliberation and Governance”. Since I took notes and listened this post is somewhat freeform. I liked how Ben asked a lot of questions. What is “CRISPR’s world” as Science Magazine called it? How do we want to use the capability of CRISPR? Ben made a comparison to nuclear physics and the development and use of atomic bombs. He quoted throughout his talk …Read More

11 min read

Below is a conversation with bioethics commentator Kelly Hills (who BTW has a great blog), tackling some of the key issues surrounding the potential use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology to make heritable human genetic modification. I really appreciate her clear and insightful answers to some tough questions that many are grappling with today on this topic. Part of the possible power of some forms of human genetic modification procedures being considered for potential future use is that they are heritable. This means, for example, that embryonic …Read More

5 min read

Last Thursday I participated in a meeting at Stanford Law School on human germline genetic modification hosted by Hank Greely (pictured at left), Professor of Law and Genetics at Stanford. The meeting was entitled, “Human Germline Modification: Medicine, Science, Ethics, and Law”. The panel included in addition to Hank and me, the following speakers: Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society (CGS); Christopher (Chris) Thomas Scott, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, and Lynn M. Westphal, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University Medical School. …Read More