Wednesday, February 10, 2016

One party heard from on the question of explicit permission for the genetic modification of donated embryos

The question posed earlier by both the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority HFEA) of the U.K. about the proper procedure for getting informed consent in cases of embryos being donated for research that will involve their genetic modification, in particular, through the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technique, has received one answer today.

Amander Clark, an embryologist who is a Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Principal Investigator at the eponymous Clark Lab ("Discovery Lab for Reproductive and Child Health") at UCLA, told Etopia News that in the consent process, the donor should know exactly what kind of research is going to be done on the embryo and that such research shouldn’t be done without the donor’s explicit consent to the procedure.

She said that the consent form needn’t specify “CRISPR/Cas9.”  It would be sufficient to simply say that the embryos would be “genetically modified.”

This would mean that previously-donated embryos whose donors had not explicitly given permission for these embryos to be genetically modified couldn't be used in any procedures that involved CRISPR/Cas9-mediated changes to their DNA.

She also said that a scenario in which CRISPR/Cas9 editing was done on an embryo in the earliest stages of its development in order to genetically program the stem cells that could be harvested once the embryo reaches the blastocyst stage was feasible.

On the subject of using CRISPR/Cas9 to create a “designer human,” Clark said, “Nobody wants to make a baby.  We don’t know how to do it.”


No comments: