1975, The Asilomar Conference. 2015, Asilomar 2.0?

In latest Science issue, 18 scientists, including Nobel prize David Baltimore and Paul Berg, published a call for a “A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification“.

Why? Because it never seemed so easy to ‘correct’ or ‘hack’ the genome of human babies. … Yes, human babies.

For those who do not remember their molecular biology lessons (or who are not PhD), Paul Berg was the initiator of the famous Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, in 1975. In 1974, young scientist at Stanford, he was about to insert recombinant DNA into the genetic material of an E. Coli bacteria, a world premiere! Before doing the experiment, he was concerned about bio-safety and possible hazard for human beings. All scientists in that new field of science decided to halt all experiments until appropriate discussion happened and guidance was agreed on. The outcome of the Asilomar Conference was an exceptional science impetus, the burst of discoveries, dozens of Nobel prizes, the Genethon, and your next cure.

Asilomar-CRISPR

Current biotechnology and medicine is the consequence of the 1975 Asilomar conference.

In 2015, the use of CRISPR-Cas9 technology has proven it is feasible to manipulate the human genome in the germinal line. It works for monkeys, why not for humans?

Is it time for a new conference?

Will it be possible to avoid your (grand)daughter to inherit this ugly BRAC2 mutation you carry, preventing her from a very high risk of breast cancer?

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