Following the International Summit on Genomic Imprinting, which was held from 1 to 3 December 2015 in Washington in the United States, scientists have unanimously declared that the technique for modifying the human embryo genome should not be applied to embryos used for pregnancies: “It would be irresponsible at this stage to proceed with the clinical use of this human reproductive cell imprinting technology since safety and efficacy problems have not been resolved with an adequate understanding of the risks involved, potential benefits and alternatives,” they explained.
“However, we do not want to close this door permanently,” added biochemist Jennifer Doudna from the University of California – Berkeley.
Genomic imprinting would be used to prevent couples from transferring a defective gene to their children. If identified in time, couples could proceed with in-vitro fertilisation “using” embryos without any genetic defects. Modification of human embryo genomes would not only affect the unborn child but also his/her descendants, introducing as yet unknown consequences.
The committee has advised scientists to continue working on genomic imprinting for treatments that would not affect future generations.
The Guardian (03/12/15) – Nature (03/12/15) – AFP (03/12/15)