ISSCR Guidelines: Heritable Genome Editing

International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) revised its guidelines for research on Heritable Human Genome Editing in 2021. These guidelines identify the implantation of gene-edited embryos as belonging to Category 3A because it is “currently unsafe or raise[s] unresolved ethical issues.” The authors note that there may be a potential pathway to allowing such research in the future. They point to the work of other advisory bodies—including the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine and the World Health Organization—and make interesting points about the relatively narrow and siloed scopes of their tasks: one considers only questions thought relevant to developing translational pathways, while another concerns itself only with those thought relevant to mechanisms of governance. The guidelines prioritize the technical and safety challenges with human heritable editing and leave the door open for case-by-case evaluation following the resolution of these existing challenges.