Heritable Genome Editing in a Global Context: National and International Policy Challenges

Achim Rosemann, Adam Balen, Brigette Nerlich, Christine Hauskeller, Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner, Sarah Hartley, Xinqing Zhang, and Nick Lee

Ever since the birth of the first human babies from gene edited embryos last year, calls for governance of heritable human genome editing have intensified. But such regulations pose challenges: there are legal differences across jurisdictions, which could lead to germline therapy tourism and rogue research, among other issues. The authors present findings from a multistakeholder study conducted in the United Kingdom on the challenges of governing heritable genome editing. They propose six policy options for enabling safe and ethical clinical applications, including proactive regulation, broad public engagement, and restrictions on advertising. Achim Rosemann is a research fellow at the Department of Sociology at the University of Exeter; Adam Balen is a professor of reproductive medicine and surgery at the University of Leeds; Christine Hauskeller is a professor in the sociology of science at the University of Exeter; Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner is professor of social and medical anthropology at the University of Sussex; Sarah Hartley is a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter Business School; Xinqing Zhang is professor of social science and bioethics at Peking Union Medical College; Nick Lee is an associate professor at the Centre for Education Studies of the University of Warwick .

Another Voice: “The Experts Are Not Enough“: Benjamin Hurlbut of Arizona State University argues that the findings offered by Rosemann and colleagues may ignore the deeper questions about the acceptability of heritable genome editing, focusing instead on limited questions about “how to police outlaws at the margins.” The problem, he argues, is that the participants in the study may not be representative of the broad public. He argues that how the stakeholders–and the stakes–of global governance of heritable genome editing are identified should be disclosed and discussed.

A Reluctant Critic: Why Gynecologic Surgery Needs Reform

Louise P. King

Most obstetrician-gynecologists operate so infrequently that their skills may deteriorate, putting their patients at risk. And yet OB-GYNs rarely disclose their lack of experience to their patients. “From an ethical perspective, this status quo cannot be allowed to persist,” writes Louise P. King, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and a surgeon within the Division of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She calls for OB/GYNs to disclose their surgical experience to patients during the informed consent process and for doctors with low volume for the surgery in question to offer referrals to more experienced providers.

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