Making the cut? Scientific possibilities and ELSI challenges in genome-editing

Edited by: Dr Oliver Feeney (National University of Ireland (Galway), Ireland), Dr Brígida Riso (ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal), Professor Vojin Rakic (University of Belgrade, Serbia) 

Since 2012, the dramatically increased potential of genome editing techniques (particularly CRISPR-Cas9) in human therapeutics has created headlines, enthusiasm and concern in genetic research not seen since the mapping of the human genome at the turn of the century. It could be suggested that the recent developments in genome editing do not bring entirely new ethical, social and legal issues to the fore. Rather, it brings us to a point where many of these theoretical reflections are becoming (potentially) applicable and therefore can have a greater role to play in policy decisions, which will affect the emerging governance of new genome editing developments. In order to help move forward a responsible debate on the issue of genome-editing with a focus on human applications and to foster a discussion that is critically reflective on existing responses from academia, policy-makers, business and the media, this special issue will bring together a multidisciplinary collection of key perspectives, charged with three key tasks. Firstly, a key task is to contribute to the question of how to evaluate and guide current and imminent developments in genome editing. Secondly, a closely related task is to contribute to reviewing the existing theoretical literature on the ethical, legal and social considerations of genetic interventions on human beings that has developed over the past number of decades, in order to ascertain their suitability for contemporary genome editing evaluation and guidance. The third task aims to develop a robust framework for future discussions and evaluations on genome editing developments and to contribute toward a responsible governance framework for scientists, biotech companies and public research institutions in Europe, and beyond, as well as improving the discourse between key stakeholders, including scientists, clinicians, bioethicists, policy-makers and the wider society.

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