With CRISPR/Cas9 and other genome-editing technologies, successful somatic and germline genome editing are becoming feasible. To respond, an American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) workgroup developed this position statement, which was approved by the ASHG Board in March 2017. The workgroup included representatives from the UK Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors, Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors, International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and US National Society of Genetic Counselors. These groups, as well as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Asia Pacific Society of Human Genetics, British Society for Genetic Medicine, Human Genetics Society of Australasia, Professional Society of Genetic Counselors in Asia, and Southern African Society for Human Genetics, endorsed the final statement. The statement includes the following positions. (1) At this time, given the nature and number of unanswered scientific, ethical, and policy questions, it is inappropriate to perform germline gene editing that culminates in human pregnancy. (2) Currently, there is no reason to prohibit in vitro germline genome editing on human embryos and gametes, with appropriate oversight and consent from donors, to facilitate research on the possible future clinical applications of gene editing. There should be no prohibition on making public funds available to support this research. (3) Future clinical application of human germline genome editing should not proceed unless, at a minimum, there is (a) a compelling medical rationale, (b) an evidence base that supports its clinical use, (c) an ethical justification, and (d) a transparent public process to solicit and incorporate stakeholder input.
Keywords: CRISPR; ethics; eugenics; gene editing; gene therapy; genetics policy; genome editing; germline; human genome; society.
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