Could a U.S. ban on human gene editing inhibit forward progress?
A small inclusion in the 2016 fiscal budget could have massive implications for the genetics community. The congressional ban on human germline modification prevents scientists from making genetic changes to early stage human embryos or sex cells. These modifications could potentially prevent multiple sensory impairments as well as developmental diseases.
This issue has become more pressing as of late due to significant advances in genetic modification techniques. While other Western countries such as Britain are moving forward with heritable gene modifications, the U.S. has remained stagnant. Even after an independent bioethics committee found that the U.S. should approve trials for various alteration techniques such as Mitochondrial replacement therapy, the FDA rejected the notion. Furthermore, the FDA has released a statement saying that the issue is off of the table for now.
Statistics show that up to 4,000 children per year are diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. At least for now, any preventative measures involving genetic modification will have to wait, at least in the United States.
S. Con. Res. 11.
United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation
Scientists Argue the US Ban on Human Gene Editing Will Leave It Behind. Alex Pearlman. August 4, 2016. Motherboard.