The recent announcement by Dr. He in China of the live birth of twins following gene editing to immobilise the CCR5 white cell receptor in order to protect the offspring from HIV infection has justifiably caused considerable consternation in the scientific community. Not least because the hypothesis is thought to be flawed by HIV experts, the experiment was performed with questionable ethics and the outcome remains to be validated.
The evolution of CRISPR technology has the potential for enabling interruption of genetic transmission of crippling and life limiting disease. The development of this technology and its implementation in a clinical context should evolve only after careful evaluation of the biological consequences and the implications for the safety of the offspring and future generations. We applaud the global discussion at the International Summit of Human Gene Editing (December 1-3, 2018) wherein the international scientific community is adopting a broadly responsible approach to enabling success and implementation of novel technologies to advance human health within the confines of ethical and regulatory safeguards essential to their applications to new treatments.