September 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

David Baltimore

5 min read

I just got back from a historic summit on human genetic modification in Washington, D.C. New genetic modification technology, termed CRISPR-Cas9, has both made genetic modification a relatively simple matter for scientists and human genetic modification much more likely in the near future. Heritable human genetic modification could prevent some rare genetic diseases so there is real potential there, but it also could open the door to serious problems such as unforeseen health consequences across generations, social justice issues, and eugenics. Both potential positives …Read More

3 min read

The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will hold a meeting on heritable human germline modification on December 1-3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Invitations to the NAS meeting to individuals starting going out last week. The upcoming NAS meeting seeks to address these issues and discuss the possibility of a moratorium on clinical use of genetic modification technology. It could play a crucial role in shaping both national and global policy on human genetic modification. The meeting was sparked in part by rising concerns …Read More

4 min read

The international stem cell policy and ethics think tank, the Hinxton Group, weighed in yesterday on heritable human genetic modification with a new policy statement. The Hinxton statement is in many ways in agreement with the Baltimore, et al. Nature paper proposing a “prudent path forward” for human germline genetic modification, which came out of the Napa Meeting earlier this year. However, while several of the Napa authors have now thrown their public support behind a clinical pause or moratorium on heritable human modification …Read More

5 min read

Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard has been making the case recently that when it comes to novel biotechnologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 that bioethics should just get out of the way. Further, he has argued that we do not need a moratorium on clinical use of CRISPR-Cas9 for human genetic modification. In fact, he says that such a moratorium would be harmful. I think he’s wrong about that. I’m not a bioethicist so rather than talk primarily about his views on bioethics, I’m going to …Read More