The WHO has released new guidelines for genome editing technology

These recommendations will help improve the safety and access of genome-editing treatments

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CRISPR gene editing visualization illustration

The NIH Image Gallery.

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines in a global effort to regulate genome editing technology. The 18-member committee was formed at the end of 2018 in the aftermath of He Jianku’s experiments resulting in the birth of twin girls with edited genomes. In accordance with their 2019 statement, the committee continues to advise against these experiments which would birth other gene-edited babies. WHO published the guidelines alongside a governance framework document to, "provide advice and recommendations on appropriate institutional, national, regional and global governance mechanisms for human genome editing." 

The WHO report outlines important recommendations as our technology continues to rapidly improve. Consistent regulation would help dissuade unregulated genome-editing treatment facilities from popping up. The committee also explored ways to improve access to genome-editing treatments through ethical licensing mechanisms. 

Finally, the report calls for an expanded registry to monitor human genome-editing clinical trials. Additionally, it would establish a mechanism that allows whistleblowers to report unethical or dangerous experiments. Moving forward, these recommendations will help improve the safety and access of genome-editing treatments.