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Policy

China Joins Conference On Human Gene Editing

Grants & Funding: Computational chemist to lead agency division

by Andrea Widener
September 21, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 37

China and the U.K. have agreed to join the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for an international summit on human gene editing later this year. Gene-editing technologies have made it possible to easily delete, insert, or replace genes in human cells. The technology has great potential to treat diseases such as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis. But it also has raised ethical concerns about the potential to create designer babies or permanently alter DNA in dangerous ways. China’s participation in the summit is important because scientists there have pushed the boundaries of the use of human gene-editing technologies. “Both Chinese scientists and the government are aware of the pros and cons of human gene editing,” Chinese Academy of Sciences President Chunli Bai said in a statement. “We would like to work together with international communities for the proper regulation and application of such technology.” The meeting, scheduled for Dec. 1–3 in Washington, D.C., is expected to include discussions on scientific, medical, ethical, and governance issues related to the technology.

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