Though CRISPR* is poised to solve many of the technical challenges inherent to manipulating the human genome, recent events have caused many to ask not only if we are ready, but if we even should. In late November, it was disclosed that twin girls, Lulu and Nana, were born with CRISPR-edited genomes, literally injecting new life into an ethical debate that was already well underway. Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, aimed to disrupt the twins’ wild-type CCR5 genes with the intent of making them resistant to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV; their father is HIV-positive). The curious choice of gene target, the lack of transparency, and the overall poor execution has cast a dark shadow on what could have been the news of the decade if not the century—assuming that there is ever a compelling case to be made for human germline editing. Instead, the transgressions of a cavalier young scientist have negatively impacted an entire research field. Now is the time to pause and reassess.
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