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Human germline genome editing commission

An international commission is being convened by the U.K.’s Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, with the participation of academies of sciences and medicine from around the world. The commission’s aim is to develop principles, criteria and standards for the clinical use of genome editing of the human germline, should it be considered to be acceptable by society. 

This follows the reported birth of the first genetically edited babies announced in November 2018 during the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong. It was criticised at the time by the summit organising committee, who recommended the development of a translational pathway for human germline editing (editing that would be inherited by subsequent generations) based upon criteria articulated in guidance documents published over the past three years. 

The work of the international commission will be overseen by an international oversight board. This will be made up of leaders from national academies of sciences and international institutions. They will approve the membership of the commission, charge it with its task, and ensure that it follows due processes. They will also approve an expert review panel for the commission’s final report including its findings and recommendations. 

The commission will meet three times in 2019. Following the first meeting, the commission will issue a public call for evidence. The response to this call will be considered at an international workshop that will precede the commission’s second meeting. The workshop will also enable a wider group of experts to engage directly with commissioners. The commission’s final report will be issued in spring 2020.

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