Ethical guideline released for human genome editing research
Published: Jul 09, 2024 06:21 AM
Genetic testing laboratory of BGI Group, a genome sequencing company, in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Photo: VCG

Genetic testing laboratory of BGI Group, a genome sequencing company, in Southwest China's Yunnan Province. Photo: VCG

An ethical guideline for human genome editing research was released by China's Ministry of Science and Technology on Monday, which includes a strict prohibition on the use of edited germ cells, fertilized eggs, or human embryos for pregnancy and reproduction. 

The guideline aims to regulate the conduct of human genome editing research and promote healthy development in this field, as the risks involved are unpredictable and have implications for the dignity and well-being of individuals, as well as potential ethical, legal, and social issues that could impact human society. 

It is currently forbidden to conduct any clinical research on germline genome editing, according to the guideline. Clinical research should only be considered if the benefits and risks, as well as other available options, are fully understood and weighed, safety and efficacy issues have been addressed, a broad social consensus has been achieved, and the study has been subjected to rigorous and prudent assessment. 

He Jiankui, a genome-editing researcher at the Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, shocked the world in 2018 when he claimed to have created the world's first genetically modified humans. 

He was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2019 for illegally conducting human embryo gene editing

The basic principles outlined in the guideline include enhancing human well-being, respecting human dignity, and safeguarding the fundamental rights and interests of research participants, including the right to information, privacy, and autonomy. 

The research must be carried out by carefully assessing the conditions for the use of human genome editing technologies, and ensuring risk monitoring throughout the process with appropriate supervision, according to the guideline. It also puts forward principles of fairness and impartiality, as well as openness and transparency. 

The guideline also noted general requirements and special requirements for human genome editing research, which should be given special attention at different stages of basic and preclinical research and clinical research into human genome editing.

Global Times