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UK scientists reject call for moratorium on gene editing

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 13 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2601
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

New techniques for editing genes, used for the first time in human embryos by researchers in China, have considerable potential as a research tool and are already being used in animals, UK experts told a briefing at the Science Media Centre in London on 12 May.

Clinical applications in humans are far more problematical and much further off, and the use of the technique has raised ethical concerns, because such changes are heritable and could have unpredictable effects on future generations. The UK scientists, however, rejected calls for a moratorium. Tony Perry of the University of Bath said it would be unenforceable and would risk driving research underground, and Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute called a moratorium “pointless.”

The disclosure that a group led by Junjiu Huang at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou had edited human embryonic genes caused a …

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