Several years ago, scientists developed a gene-editing tool inspired by a bacterial defense system. The editor, called CRISPR/Cas9, could make permanent edits to the genome, and as it was unleashed on the global scientific community, it was adapted for use in many different species and refined in other ways. It is able to make edits to the human genome too, including embryos, and while that was once thought to be an ethical bridge that people weren’t ready to cross, a scientist recently announced that twins had been born after their genomes were edited using the CRISPR tool.
Now, scientists that developed CRISPR and other researchers have sounded the alarm, calling “for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.”
They don’t necessarily want to ban this technology forever, but rather, create a framework in which it can be regulated after discussing the many issues that are at play, including ethics and medical needs.