Heritable human genome editing: Research progress, ethical considerations, and hurdles to clinical practice

Cell. 2021 Mar 18;184(6):1561-1574. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.02.036.


Our genome at conception determines much of our health as an adult. Most human diseases have a heritable component and thus may be preventable through heritable genome editing. Preventing disease from the beginning of life before irreversible damage has occurred is an admirable goal, but the path to fruition remains unclear. Here, we review the significant scientific contributions to the field of human heritable genome editing, the unique ethical challenges that cannot be overlooked, and the hurdles that must be overcome prior to translating these technologies into clinical practice.

Keywords: germline genome editing; heritable disease; mutations; reproduction; reproductive medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • DNA Breaks
  • Gene Editing / ethics*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*