Catholic bioethicist warns against gene-editing experiments


In the wake of a gene-editing experiment gone wrong, the president of a US Catholic bioethics centre said the Church must stand firm against the unborn being “sacrificed on the altar of scientific research”. Source: CNA.

By Kate Scanlon, CNA

Science publication OneZero reported last week that scientists in the UK recently conducted an experiment where they deleted a gene from human embryos. They later realised the edited embryos also contained significant unintended edits that could lead to birth defects or other major medical issues later in life. The embryos were subsequently destroyed.

“There’s no sugarcoating this,” Fyodor Urnov, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, told OneZero. “This is a restraining order for all genome editors to stay the living daylights away from embryo editing.”

Joseph Meaney, president of the US-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the experiment gone wrong was predictable, because “science, as it emerges into new areas, makes a lot of mistakes.”

Dr Meaney said it is “wonderful” that secular scientists raised alarms about the experiment. “It’s good to see that there’s a universal consensus that this should not be done,” he said.

He also cautioned against arguments from some scientists who contend that such experiments are ethical because the embryos are not permitted to be carried to term and born. He added that while there might be permissible uses of such technology for adults and children in the womb, “you can’t conceive a child in a laboratory, and experiment on them in a laboratory”.


Catholic bioethicist warns against gene-editing experiments (CNA

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