Survey Results: Genetics Specialists’ Views on Genome Editing; Findings Reported at ASHG 2017 Annual Meeting

Genetics professionals around the globe hold varying views on genome editing in humans, agreeing with the general public on some aspects and differing on others, according to survey results presented on October 19, 2017 at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) 2017 Annual Meeting in Orlando, Floroida. The results were presented by Professor Kelly Ormond, MS, Certified Genetic Counselor, of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. Led by Alyssa Armsby (photo), MS, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, researchers surveyed members of ten international genetics organizations on their attitudes toward research and potential clinical applications of genome editing, as well as how this relatively new technology fits in with their world view. The CRISPR/Cas9 system, a genome editing tool introduced in 2013, has quickly become widely used in genetics research due to the ease with which it can be customized and its effectiveness across cell types and species. Its quick adoption has sparked social and ethical questions, within both the scientific community and society more broadly, about how it should be studied and used. “There is a need for an ongoing international conversation about genome editing, but very little data on how people trained in genetics view the technology,” said Ms. Armsby. “As the ones who do the research and work with patients and families, they’re an important group of stakeholders,” she said. Among the 500 genetics professionals included in the analysis, the researchers found high support (>85%) for research into somatic uses of gene editing, which mirrors surveys of the American public.
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