Gene Editing
Promises and Challenges

Summary

GENE EDITING: Promises and Challenges
Presented jointly with NBC News Digital
May 19, 2017

In labs and in clinical trials, scientists are seeking ways to rewrite DNA, a building block of life. Tools such as zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), TAL effector nucleases (TALENs) and, more recently, CRISPR/Cas9 have the power to seek out and replace faulty DNA. The possibilities seem almost limitless: with the ability to edit DNA at will, researchers theoretically could wipe out malaria-causing mosquitos, make disease- and pest-proof crops without the need for pesticides, and cure genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Cancer is another target, with human clinical trials using CRISPR already underway, while, in separate efforts, HIV has been reportedly eliminated in mice thanks to the tool.

But scientists and ethicists alike are worried about the speed at which the gene editing field is moving — and the implications of the results. In this panel, we discussed the promises and challenges presented by gene editing for individual and public health. What scientific and ethical hurdles must be overcome before tools like CRISPR and others can move safely and more widely out of the lab and into fields, farms, and hospitals

Engage with us: Send our panelists questions in advance to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu
Tweet us @ForumHSPH #GeneEditing

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Presented jointly with NBC News Digital

Image Credit: iStock Photo/ supparsorn

  • The Forum Moderator

    Welcome everyone. We are so glad that you could join us today. We will start in a few minutes.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will be starting in just a minute.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This clip is provided courtesy of NBC, and we thank them. This event is being presented jointly with NBC News Digital.

  • The Forum Moderator

    This clip is courtesy of the Wyss Institute, and we thank them as well.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will have a brief Q&A towards the end of this discussion. If you have a question for our panelists, you can post them here or email them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

  • The Forum Moderator

    Flaminia will be teaching soon a free online course called MalariaX: Defeating Malaria from the Genes to the Globe. If you are interested, you can learn more about the course here: https://www.edx.org/course/malariax-defeating-malaria-genes-globe-harvardx-ph425x#!

  • The Forum Moderator

    If you’re interested in learning more about gene editing, you may wish to read this recent NAS report, Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance: https://www.nap.edu/read/24623/chapter/1

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will begin our Q&A shortly. If you have a question for our panelists, you can post them here or email them to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu.

  • wmscottp

    What are the conditions under which US scientists who usually work under more regulatory protocols in bringing a product to the market should consider collaborating with colleagues in other countries (China in mind) in working with gene editing products. Thinking specifically about the Chinese work with gene editing on embryos. Thanks in advance

    • The Forum Moderator

      Thanks for the question!

  • The Forum Moderator

    Our event will be ending soon. We thank you again for joining us today.

  • wmscottp

    To Flaminia: is there a sense of what the mulitgenerational integrity of a specific gene drive might be in the mosquito trials?

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will post an on-demand video of this event on this site, Facebook and YouTube shortly. We also will post a searchable transcript on this site next week.

  • The Forum Moderator

    We will ask our panelists to come here and answer questions that we were unable to ask today.

  • wmscottp

    is there a time frame in which the questions will be addressed here ? or perhaps answered through disqus mail?