WHO announces expert committee to develop standards for human genome editing


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the membership of a new WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing. It is hoped this Committee will advise and make recommendations on appropriate governance mechanisms for human genome editing.

The announcement comes just months after Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed he had edited the embryonic genomes of twins. In December, the WHO said it was establishing a panel to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges associated with human gene editing, saying the recent application of tools such as CRISPR-Cas9 highlight “the need for the development of standards in this area".

The Committee will be co-chaired by Justice Cameron Edwin, who has been a Justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court since 2009, and by the internationally recognised public health leader, Dr Margaret A Hamburg. The full committee includes a range of ethics/bioethics, genetics, legal, neurology, biology, pharmacy, geopolitics and philosophy experts. Members will serve in an independent and personal capacity. 

The Committee will meet next month for the first time to review the current landscape and discuss and agree on the work plan for the coming 12-18 months. 

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