New gene editing methods like CRISPR/Cas9 have given scientists unprecedented potential to edit human DNA. But how should researchers in the field actually use these methods, especially when editing traits that can be passed down to children? Should they be used to cure disease? Should they be used to enhance features that aren’t necessary for our survival?
We’re definitely far from seeing X-men mutants and genetically modified superhumans from whatever dystopian young adult novel you may be reading, especially in the United States where lawmakers passed legislation preventing government money from funding this kind of research. That hasn’t stopped researchers in other countries like China from creating gene-edited embryos, which has some scientists very concerned. Today, the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine released a major new report and recommendations to ensure any such research done stateside in the future is performed responsibly and ethically.
The implicit message is that whether we like it or not, a future of gene-edited humans is on its way.