Yesterday I featured a story about a controversial and unethical experiment that claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies. Here is a rebuttal relayed by Stephen Johnson of Big Think:
One scientist who disagreed with He is Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a professor of chemistry and molecular & cell biology at UC Berkeley and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. In a statement published on UC Berkeley’s website, Doudna said that He and his colleagues should “fully explain their break from the global consensus that application of CRISPR-Cas9 for human germline editing should not proceed at the present time.” She said the public should consider the following points:
The clinical report has not been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
Because the data have not been peer reviewed, the fidelity of the gene editing process cannot be evaluated.
The work as described to date reinforces the urgent need to confine the use of gene editing in human embryos to cases where a clear unmet medical need exists, and where no other medical approach is a viable option, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.