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    Preaching caution, not prohibition, an expert committee of scientists and bioethicists from 10 countries, including Canada, has recommended that regulators tightly control rather than entirely ban the option of making changes to human DNA in order to prevent genetic disease and disability.

    In a report released Tuesday by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine, the group lays out a set of principles meant to inform future manipulations of the human genome, along with guidelines for what it deems permissible, as regulators grapple with the astonishing power to rewrite human DNA made possible by the advent of the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR.

    HUMAN GENOME EDITING: RECOMMENDED OVERSIGHT

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    1. Basic Laboratory Research

    Use existing regulations to oversee human genome editing in laboratory studies.

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    2. Somatic Genome Editing (Genetic changes that cannot be inherited by future generations)

    Use existing regulations developed for gene therapy to oversee clinical trial involving editing of DNA in somatic cells (for example, blood cells).

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    3. Germline Genome Editing (Genetic changes that can be inherited by future generations)

    Permit clinical trials only for “compelling purposes” such as treatment and prevention of serious disease or disabilities.

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    4. Human Enhancement

    Do not proceed at this time with human genome editing for purposes other than treatment and prevention of disease or disabilities. Encourage public discussion on somatic genome editing for other uses.

    MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE
     

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