KC bioethicist: Human gene editing has potential for good, but proceed with caution

KMBZ News Staff
November 29, 2018 - 6:02 am

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The case involving a Chinese scientist who announced he edited genetic material in twin baby girls is stirring up concern among the scientific community in Kansas City.

The work could backfire, said Terry Rosell of the Kansas City-based Center for Practical Bioethics.

"If it's something that does not improve life, and gets passed on to other generations -- unintended consequences -- that could have an impact for others," Rosell said.

There is consensus in the medical ethics community that there is tremendous potential to improve lives through gene editing, especially to eliminate diseases, such as malaria, Rosell said. 

Bioethics experts believe the genetic research must be done carefully and deliberately.

"It's not like ethicists are stick-in-the-mud sort of people who are opposed to everything, we're not," Rosell said. "We're just saying there could be unintended consequences to trying to do something good -- be careful."

The purpose of gene editing in the twin girls in China was to boost their immunity to HIV. The scientist behind the research said another woman could be pregnant with a child with edited genetic information.


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