December 26, 2018 – Heritable Changes


Anchor lead: Is the current state of mitochondrial replacement therapy a model for where CRISPR may go? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Editing embryos using the technique known as CRISPR has reportedly resulted in the birth of twins, with changes in their DNA able to be passed on to other generations. Another technique known as mitochondrial replacement therapy has also been used worldwide and also induces heritable changes. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins, says it may offer a model for what could happen with CRISPR.

Kahn: I think an open question is what might happen in environments where there are not clear policy paradigms or sanctions in place like has already happened with so-called MRT, mitochondria replacement technologies. That’s a very open question because the science is very available. That’s a feature I think that needs to be acknowledged and that means people who have been trained without a huge amount of sophisticated expertise are able to use these tools.   :30

Kahn says the need for the international communities to act is critical. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.