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Heritable Genome Editing in a Global Context: National and International Policy Challenges

A central problem for the international governance of heritable germline gene editing is that there are important differences in attitudes and values as well as ethical and health care considerations around the world. These differences are reflected in a complicated and diverse regulatory landscape. Several publications have discussed whether reproductive uses would be legally permissible in individual countries and whether clinical applications could emerge in the context of regulatory gaps and gray areas. Systematic comparative studies that explore issues related to the governance of this technology from different national and international perspectives are needed to address the lack of knowledge in this area. In this research report, we contribute to filling this gap by presenting views of stakeholders in the United Kingdom on challenges to the governance of heritable genome editing. We present findings from a multistakeholder study conducted in the United Kingdom between October 2016 and January 2018 and funded by the Wellcome Trust. This research included interviews, literature analysis, and a workshop. We involved leading U.K. scientists, in vitro fertilization clinicians, and representatives from regulatory bodies, patient organizations, and other civil societal organizations, as well as fertility companies. Part one of this article explores stakeholder perceptions of possible global developments in heritable genome editing and associated risks and governance challenges. Part two presents a range of policy options that were generated during the workshop in relation to the challenges discussed in part one.

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