The false promise of human gene editing

Human germ-line editing is now inevitable but will not end genetic disease

While human enhancement has little mainstream scientific support, gene-editing to eliminate diseases from human populations is a vision many share. Now, following breakthrough technologies and the shocking case of He Jiankui editing the germ-line of two human girls, the editing of heritable human cells has appeared on the horizon whether we like it or not. What will the dream of human gene editing deliver? Sahotra Sarka, author of 'Cut-and-Paste Genetics', weighs up the credibility and safety of the new science of the CRISPR revolution.

In Hong Kong in November 2018, immediately before the start of the International Summit on Human Genome Editing, Chinese biologist He Jiankui stunned the world by announcing that he had successfully edited the germ-line of two little girls born earlier in the month. The girls were daughters of HIV-positive fathers, and He had used CRISPR-based techniques to edit their CCR5 gene, the typical versio

Continue reading

Enjoy unlimited access to the world's leading thinkers.

Start by exploring our subscription options or joining our mailing list today.

Start Free Trial

Already a subscriber? Log in

Join the conversation