The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), in partnership with the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, will hold the first meeting of the International Commission on the Clinical Use of Heritable Human Genome Editing. The Commission aims to develop a framework for scientists, clinicians, and regulatory authorities to consider when assessing potential clinical applications of human germline genome editing. The framework will identify a number of scientific, medical, and ethical requirements that should be considered, and could inform the development of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable.
The Commission is the latest action from the international science community to address issues around human genome editing. It follows the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing — held last November in Hong Kong by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the Royal Society, and the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong. The topic became a focus of global attention when a scientist from China revealed at the summit that as a result of his research, twins had been born whose embryonic genomes had been edited. The scientist was widely condemned by the global scientific community for violating long-standing scientific principles and ethical norms.
The US National Academies and the Royal Society are the secretariat of the commission, which includes representatives from 10 nations. Kay Davies, professor of genetics at the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre at the University of Oxford, England, and Richard Lifton, president of the Rockefeller University in New York City, are co-chairs of the commission. The commission will hold one additional meeting and an international workshop, and will also issue a call for public input to inform their work. A final report from the commission is expected to be issued in the spring of 2020.