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CRISPR co-inventor responds to claim of first genetically edited babies

Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing, urged caution as sensational report emerges in China

In response to ongoing developments related to claims that the world’s first genetically edited babies have been born in China, Dr. Jennifer Doudna, professor of chemistry and molecular & cell biology at UC Berkeley and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, issued the following updated statement:

Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna (Brittany Hosea-Small photo, 2019)

“It is imperative that the scientists responsible for this work fully explain their break from the global consensus that application of CRISPR-Cas9 for human germline editing should not proceed at the present time. It is important for the public to consider the following points:

  1. The clinical report has not been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
  2. Because the data have not been peer reviewed, the fidelity of the gene editing process cannot be evaluated.
  3. The work as described to date reinforces the urgent need to confine the use of gene editing in human embryos to cases where a clear unmet medical need exists, and where no other medical approach is a viable option, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

It is essential that this news not detract from the many important clinical efforts to use CRISPR technology to treat and cure disease in adults and in children. Public and transparent discussion of the many uses of genome editing technology must continue, as is happening over the next three days at the Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong.”


The organizing committee of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing issued a joint statement

— Jennifer Doudna is interviewed on Skype (Her interview starts at 1:10 in the video.)

— Doudna is quoted in the Washington Post, on NPR and in Vox.

— The global group of national academies of science, including the U.S.’s NAS, issued a statement calling for caution and public input in the international dialogue on human gene editing.

—On Thursday, Jennifer Doudna will moderate a panel on “Public Engagement Efforts” at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong. It starts at 11:30 a.m. local time. The livestream of that panel, and the entire summit, can be foll owed online here