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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN Imprimer: 2151-805X
ISSN En ligne: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2016016521
pages 299-304

Nurturing or Purifying the Human Genome: Promises and Pitfalls of CRISPR Germline Editing

Evelyne Shuster
Research Ethics, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Ave., Philadelphia PA 19104

RÉSUMÉ

The editing metaphor imported from information theory and applied to CRISPR makes gene editing appear as the logical next step after the reading of the human genome. But the metaphor oversimplifies reality and suggests actions whose risks outweigh their likely benefits. Moreover, it is misleading to characterize gene editing as a "new reproductive technology" when it is much more accurately described as a technology that is only incidental to reproduction, and not essential to it. When CRISPR is applied to somatic cells for repair, it can be said to fit the category of medical treatment. But when applied to gametes or embryos, CRISPR introduces irreversible germline genetic changes which will be passed on to future generations. When these changes aim to "improve" the resulting children, CRISPR-gene editing fits the category of eugenics.


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