World Health Organization issues new recommendations on human genome editing

The World Health Organization has issued new recommendations on human genome editing. It has called for a global registry to track any form of genetic manipulation and proposing a whistle-blowing mechanism to raise concerns about unethical or unsafe research. The UN health agency commissioned an expert group in late 2018 following a dramatic announcement from Chinese scientist He Jiankui that he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies.

In two reports yesterday, WHO’s expert group said all studies involving human genome editing should be made public. The committee however noted that this wouldn’t necessarily stop unprincipled scientists.

The Chinese scientist announced he had altered the DNA of twin babies to prevent them from catching HIV. He said the university where he worked was not aware of this work and that he funded it himself. He was later sentenced to three years in jail for conducting illegal medical practices.

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