Scientific leaders condemn Russian scientist's plan to produce more 'CRISPR babies'

Two prominent leaders in the scientific community have publicly denounced plans recently announced by Russian molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov, PhD, to use CRISPR technology to edit the DNA of human embryos, STAT reports.

"This is crazy — and it worries me tremendously. But I don't know what we can do to stop him," Victor Dzau, MD, president of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, told the outlet.

Margaret Hamburg, MD, co-chair of the World Health Organization's advisory committee for governance and oversight of human genome editing, echoed Dr. Dzau's sentiments. "Our committee is not in a position to provide direct oversight," she said, but added, "We would be very naive not to think [Rebrikov's] work is not going forward. He's very clear that he wants to do this."

This case, Dr. Hamburg said, "underscores the importance of really trying to create a global governance framework, really trying to engage the scientific community in terms of its responsibility to step up to the plate."

Dr. Rebrikov told the journal Nature of his plans in early June, just a few months after Chinese scientist He Jiankui, PhD, announced in November 2018 that he had used CRISPR technology to edit the embryos of two twin babies, an announcement that prompted international condemnation and spurred urgent discussions of the ethics of genome editing.

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