The reports coming from Japan indicate that the government will soon allow human genes to be edited. This is following the receipt of guidelines which define how the process must be done. According to these guidelines which were released by representatives from Japan’s health and science ministries, scientists must adhere to the recommendations. We know about the invention of the sophisticated tools that can be used for gene editing.
Now, it is time to use these tools. There are many uncertainties about the expected outcome of gene editing. The curiosity has put pressure on the regulatory committees and scientists to make an attempt at editing human genes with the tools.
One of the tools that can be used to edit human genes is the CRISPR Cas9. It was developed for use in modifying the DNA in the human embryo. This has been the focus of on-going studies on human embryos for many years.
The center where a majority of these studies are done is located within the Hokkaido University in Sapporo. One of the foremost scientists involved in this process is Tetsuya Ishii, a bioethicist attached to the university.
Earlier, Japan had propagated a neutral opinion about editing human genes. However, there has been a review of this position. The authorities are now interested in pushing forward research in this direction.
It has however been noted that when all permissions to proceed with this experiment have been granted, there will be some restrictions. The scientists in charge of the project will not be allowed to manipulate the human embryos to stimulate or achieve reproduction. These restrictions will not be legally binding.
The main objective of this project is to modify genes in the human embryo to find ways through which genetic mutations can be prevented. This means a long list of diseases can be prevented if the project is successful.
These experiments have been stalled for many years due to uncertainties based on ethics. There have been criticisms that the editing of genes in the human embryo is unethical. There are also concerns that secret experiments can be done to use these tools to modify human DNA. The authorities have therefore stressed that the tools should only be used for medical research.
The concept of editing genes in the human embryo is forbidden in many countries.
What we know is the publication of reports for studies that have only discussed the possibilities and advantages of this process. In countries such as China and the United States, scientists are permitted to explore these areas only through privately funded research projects. However, these projects are closely monitored by the authorities in these countries.
According to the reports from Japan, we will be able to view the guidelines that have been released publicly. These documents are scheduled to be released in the coming months. It is expected that there will be a public debate and some review to adjust different areas of this report.
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