The Royal Society responds to the report on Human Genome Editing

14 February 2017

The Royal Society has responded to the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine report published today on Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance. 

“Recent advances in the speed and accuracy of techniques for genome editing have opened new possibilities for treatment and prevention of human disease. This report outlines the potential of the technology.  It also, importantly, highlights the ethical and governance issues which must be carefully debated on the international stage before we decide how we should use our knowledge and how we regulate those decisions.

In the UK we have a strong track record in regulation and we have already seen genome editing help doctors at Great Ormond Street to treat a case of leukaemia in an infant. The hope is that we can develop safe and publicly acceptable ways to not only treat more diseases but also offer parents the option of not passing on the risk of inherited diseases to their children and future generations.  Our ability to do this is by no means guaranteed but today’s report will hopefully send a strong signal to scientists to continue advancing our knowledge of what might be possible. As the report stresses, in step with that research we will need strong, international debate and public support every step of the way.”

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society