The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced plans to establish a global expert panel to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges associated with both somatic and germ cell human gene editing.
The announcement comes just weeks after the news of the birth of genetically-edited twins in China.
The WHO said it intends to approach leading experts to create the new panel and is liaising with relevant UN and other international agencies, as well as communicating with academies of science and medicine and bodies that have produced previous reports in this area.
It is anticipated that once established the new panel will review current literature on the state of the human gene editing research and its applications, in addition to societal attitudes towards the different uses of this technology. It will then advise the WHO on appropriate oversight and governance mechanisms.
“The recent application of tools such as CRISPR-Casp9 to edit the human genome have highlighted the need for the development of standards in this area. WHO’s expert working group will work in a consultative manner and build on existing initiatives,” it said in a statement.