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The moral argument for heritable genome editing requires an inappropriately deterministic view of genetics

The moral argument for heritable genome editing requires an inappropriately deterministic view of genetics
The moral argument for heritable genome editing requires an inappropriately deterministic view of genetics
Gyngell and colleagues consider that the recent Nuffield Council report does not go far enough: heritable genome editing (HGE) is not just justifiable in a few rare cases; instead, there is a moral imperative to undertake it. We agree that there is a moral argument for this, but in the real world it is mitigated by the fact that it is not usually possible to ensure a better life. We suggest that a moral imperative for HGE can currently only be concluded if one first buys into an overly deterministic view of a genome sequence, and the role of variation within in it, in the aetiology of the disease: most diseases cannot simply be attributed to specific genetic variants that we could edit away. Multiple, poorly understood genetic and environmental factors interact to influence the expression of diseases with a genetic component, even well understood 'monogenic' disorders. Population-level genome analyses are now demonstrating that many genetic 'mutations' are much less predictive than previously thought 1 Furthermore, HGE might introduce new risks just as it reduces old ones; or remove protections not yet clearly delineated.
1473-4257
Horton, Rachel
f79e8b73-2edc-47aa-b29a-1801ad10fe6b
Lucassen, Anneke
2eb85efc-c6e8-4c3f-b963-0290f6c038a5
Horton, Rachel
f79e8b73-2edc-47aa-b29a-1801ad10fe6b
Lucassen, Anneke
2eb85efc-c6e8-4c3f-b963-0290f6c038a5

Horton, Rachel and Lucassen, Anneke (2019) The moral argument for heritable genome editing requires an inappropriately deterministic view of genetics. Journal of Medical Ethics. (doi:10.1136/medethics-2019-105390).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Gyngell and colleagues consider that the recent Nuffield Council report does not go far enough: heritable genome editing (HGE) is not just justifiable in a few rare cases; instead, there is a moral imperative to undertake it. We agree that there is a moral argument for this, but in the real world it is mitigated by the fact that it is not usually possible to ensure a better life. We suggest that a moral imperative for HGE can currently only be concluded if one first buys into an overly deterministic view of a genome sequence, and the role of variation within in it, in the aetiology of the disease: most diseases cannot simply be attributed to specific genetic variants that we could edit away. Multiple, poorly understood genetic and environmental factors interact to influence the expression of diseases with a genetic component, even well understood 'monogenic' disorders. Population-level genome analyses are now demonstrating that many genetic 'mutations' are much less predictive than previously thought 1 Furthermore, HGE might introduce new risks just as it reduces old ones; or remove protections not yet clearly delineated.

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Genome_editing_response_accepted_manuscript - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 31 January 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 12 March 2019
Published date: 12 March 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 429639
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/429639
ISSN: 1473-4257
PURE UUID: 388e7e18-4ee2-4205-93e8-171559a11d37
ORCID for Anneke Lucassen: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3324-4338

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Date deposited: 02 Apr 2019 16:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 02:47

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