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3 September 2019GeneticsSarah Morgan

WHO launches genome editing registry

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a global registry to track research on human genome editing.

In March this year, WHO experts called for a central registry, among a committee consensus that it would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct gene-editing studies in people.

The committee was formed following reports that a Chinese scientist had successfully created ‘edited’ twins, in December last year.

As the news of the twins broke, scientists urged policymakers to implement regulations around the use of gene-editing technology CRISPR.

Then, in June this year, a Russian scientist announced he was planning to create CRISPR-edited babies, despite the widespread condemnation levelled at the Chinese scientist who created the ‘edited’ twins.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said: “Since our last meeting, some scientists have announced their wish to edit the genome of embryos and bring them to term. This illustrates how important our work is, and how urgent.”

He added that while genome editing technologies hold great promise, some uses of these technologies also pose unique and unprecedented ethical, social, regulatory and technical challenges.

Countries should not allow any further work on human germline genome editing in human clinical applications until the technical and ethical implications have been properly considered, concluded Ghebreyesus.

The initial phase of the registry will include somatic and germline clinical trials and, to ensure the registry is fit for purpose and transparent, the committee will engage with stakeholders on how it will operate.

The committee has called on all relevant research and development initiatives to register their trials.

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21 March 2019   World Health Organization (WHO) experts have called for central registry on human genome editing research is needed, among a committee consensus that it would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct gene-editing studies in people.
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Biotechnology
3 September 2019   An alliance of companies that use gene-editing technologies has released a bioethical framework, as controversy over gene-editing continues.
Asia-Pacific
26 November 2018   Scientists have urged policymakers to implement a regulatory framework governing the use of CRISPR technology in humans, following reports that a Chinese scientist has successfully created ‘edited’ twins.
Africa
21 March 2019   World Health Organization (WHO) experts have called for central registry on human genome editing research is needed, among a committee consensus that it would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct gene-editing studies in people.

More on this story

Biotechnology
3 September 2019   An alliance of companies that use gene-editing technologies has released a bioethical framework, as controversy over gene-editing continues.
Asia-Pacific
26 November 2018   Scientists have urged policymakers to implement a regulatory framework governing the use of CRISPR technology in humans, following reports that a Chinese scientist has successfully created ‘edited’ twins.
Africa
21 March 2019   World Health Organization (WHO) experts have called for central registry on human genome editing research is needed, among a committee consensus that it would be irresponsible for any scientist to conduct gene-editing studies in people.