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    STUDIA BIOETHICA - Issue no. Special Issue / 2021  

Authors:  GUIDO DE WERT.
DOI: 10.24193/subbbioethica.2021.spiss.01

Published Online: 2021-06-30
Published Print: 2021-06-30


ABSTRACT: Plenary Session III Technological developments in genome editing raise high expectations for clinical applications, also for germline genome editing (GGE). Clinical (reproductive) GGE is currently categorically prohibited in many countries, in line with relevant European regulations. What are the arguments behind this prohibitive legislation - and are they convincing? If a technique could help to avoid serious genetic disorders in future children in a safe and effective way, would this be a reason to reconsider a categorical prohibition? Taking account of both deontological and (different types of) consequentialist ethical arguments, it is argued that: - both basic and preclinical research regarding GGE can be morally justified on conditions; - while clinical GGE would be totally premature, it might become a responsible intervention in the future, both as an add-on to and an alternative for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) for genetic conditions, but only after adequate pre-clinical research suggesting that GGE is sufficiently safe and effective; - the categorical prohibition of clinical GGE needs critical discussion, also at a European level; - a strict regulation of clinical GGE is warranted given the relevant safety and societal concerns about unsound applications.
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