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Eur J Hum Genet. 2018 Apr;26(4):445-449. doi: 10.1038/s41431-017-0076-0. Epub 2018 Jan 12.

Human germline gene editing: Recommendations of ESHG and ESHRE.

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Department of Health, Ethics and Society, Research Institutes GROW and CAPHRI, Fac. of Health, Medicine and the Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Bioethics Institute Ghent, Department of Philosophy and Moral Science, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.
Institute of Gene Technology/Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany.
Department of Clinical Genetics, Section Community Genetics, and Amsterdam Public Health research institute, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Clinical Genetics Department, Guy's Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, The Netherlands.
Ghent-Fertility and Stem cell Team (G-FaST), Department for Reproductive Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.
Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
University Paul Sabatier Toulouse, Toulouse, France.
1st Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.


Technological developments in gene editing raise high expectations for clinical applications, first of all for somatic gene editing but in theory also for germline gene editing (GLGE). GLGE is currently not allowed in many countries. This makes clinical applications in these countries impossible now, even if GLGE would become safe and effective. What were the arguments behind this legislation, and are they still convincing? If a technique can help to avoid serious genetic disorders, in a safe and effective way, would this be a reason to reconsider earlier standpoints? The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) together developed a Background document and Recommendations to inform and stimulate ongoing societal debates. After consulting its membership and experts, this final version of the Recommendations was endorsed by the Executive Committee and the Board of the respective Societies in May 2017. Taking account of ethical arguments, we argue that both basic and pre-clinical research regarding GLGE can be justified, with conditions. Furthermore, while clinical GLGE would be totally premature, it might become a responsible intervention in the future, but only after adequate pre-clinical research. Safety of the child and future generations is a major concern. Future discussions must also address priorities among reproductive and potential non-reproductive alternatives, such as PGD and somatic editing, if that would be safe and successful. The prohibition of human germline modification, however, needs renewed discussion among relevant stakeholders, including the general public and legislators.

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