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AVAILABLE EXPERT – International Summit on Human Gene Editing and CRISPR gene-editing tool

Monday, November 30, 2015

Udo Schuklenk, a Queen's University research professor in bioethics and Editor of the international journal Bioethics, is available for comment on the first International Summit on Human Gene Editing, scheduled to begin in Washington, DC tomorrow. One topic, set to cause a major discussion, is CRISPR-Cas9 - a recently-discovered genetic editing technique that may allow researchers to edit the genome of any species with a pinpoint precision not possible before, raising possible ethical questions.

"Meetings like this serve a very limited practical purpose. Given the ease with which it will be possible for most researchers to access and use CRISPR, limitations on global research will be all but impossible to police," says Dr. Schuklenk. "It also seems to be the case that concerns about manipulations of the human germline are overblown. Large-scale manipulations of the human germline are exceedingly unlikely. Canadian regulators are be able to prohibit their use in humans in this country if that is what society wants." 

"There are no sound in-principle ethical reasons to prevent research based on CRISPR in humans, and there won't be a true global consensus on such a prohibition. The real issue seems to be the unpredictable environmental impact of CRISPR manipulations of non-human organisms combined with the use of means such as gene drives to propagate them quickly. That genie seems unfortunately out of the bottle."

Dr. Schuklenk is available for print and radio interviews on November 30.

To arrange an interview, please contact Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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