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CRISPR J. 2019 Oct;2(5):285-292. doi: 10.1089/crispr.2019.0019.

Heritable Genome Editing: Who Speaks for "Future" Children?

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Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Approximately 80% of rare and often incurable and serious conditions affect newborns and children, and roughly half of all rare diseases are considered to have an onset in childhood. Somatic gene therapies are already in clinical trials for spinal muscular atrophy, beta thalassemia, and macular degeneration. If proven to be safe and effective, could heritable genome editing be seen as a form of preventive personalized medicine and as fostering the right to health of the child? The latest calls for global moratoria on clinical applications of heritable genome editing are troubling in that they may create an illusion of control over rogue science and stifle the necessary international debate surrounding an ethically responsible translational path forward. Children are people with distinct rights and interests. An arbitrary moratorium neither fosters their best interests or health nor respects their right to benefit from the advancements of science.


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