Gene-editing and Designer Babies

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In November 2018, the world was rocked by news that Chinese scientist He Jiankui had genetically manipulated human embryos and implanted them in women for gestation. He used CRISPR, a gene-modifying tool, to mutate a gene that could provide protection form HIV/AIDS. Last December, he was sentenced to three years in prison for his actions. But the story is hardly over. Now that the technology exists, how should we approach gene editing in humans? What are the ethical and practical issues surrounding its use? Are we entering an era of “designer babies”?

This episode’s guest is Dr. Kirstin R.W. Matthews, Fellow in Science and Technology Policy at the Baker Institute. She is co-author of the paper, “Are we ready to genetically modify a human embryo? Or is it too late to ask?”, which appeared in “Accountability in Research.”

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