26-04-2016

« Human Gene Editing »: next step this week in Paris


Gene editing techniques, especially CRISPR-Cas9 are becoming increasingly more popular since their prospects and ethical issues are so important: two important international meetings will be held next April 28 and 29 in Paris, under the auspices of the Academy of Medicine.

In 2015, the American Medical and Sciences Academies launched « Human Gene Editing», an initiative to study the issues related to new gene editing techniques.

This initiative has been organized in several stages.

First of all, an international symposium, co-organized with the Chinese Science Academy and the British Royal Society, was held in Washington in December 2015, on scientific, ethical and governing questions related to research using human genome editing techniques.

Afterwards a multidisciplinary international committee was created to carry out more detailed studies on the scientific basis of these genetic engineering techniques, on their potential biomedical and medical applications – including that on human stem cells – and their clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications. This committee of experts, a majority of whom are Americans, started the process of collecting information during this first summit in Washington. Henceforth, it is also its role to maintain a scientific watch, made necessary by the rapid development of these techniques, to compile research literature from American and foreign workshops, to request a wide participation from researchers, clinicians, and decision makers, as well as from the public. This committee is expected to publish a report before the end of 2016, a study which should take into account the official position of the American Academy of Science and Medicine. This committee organized a second summit in Washington on February 11, 2016.

The next step is the third summit to be held in Paris on April 29th at the National Medical Academy. This meeting will focus on the political aspect and the governing principles underlying human genome editing. One of the round table discussions will be dedicated to potential applications for stem cells: human gametes and embryos.

On the evening before the meeting, April 28th, a working symposium will also be held at the Medical Academy, in addition to the Committee, organized by the Federation of the European Federation of Medical Academies on the state of science and the rules on human genome editing in the European Union. The purpose of this workshop is to foster discussion among experts to determine if common European directive guidelines can be laid down and provide information to the public and relevant entities. A round table will be dedicated to the research and to applications on human stem cells.