The CRISPR Journal
Volume 2, Issue 6 / December 2019
Genetic Protection Modifications: Moving Beyond the Binary Distinction Between Therapy and Enhancement for Human Genome Editing
Rasmus Bjerregaard Mikkelsen, Henriette Reventlow S. Frederiksen, Mickey Gjerris, Bjørn Holst,
Poul Hyttel, Yonglun Luo, Kristine Freude, and Peter Sandøe
Published Online:16 December 2019
The current debate and policy surrounding the use of genome editing in humans typically relies on a binary distinction between therapy and human enhancement. Here, we argue that this dichotomy fails to take into account perhaps the most significant potential uses of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing in humans. We argue that genetic treatment of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, breast and ovarian cancer predisposing BRCA1/2 mutations, and the introduction of human immunodeficiency virus resistance in humans should be considered within a new category of genetic protection treatments. We suggest that if this category is not introduced, life-altering research might be unnecessarily limited by current or future policy. Otherwise ad hoc decisions might be made, which introduce a risk of unforeseen moral costs, and might overlook or fail to address some important opportunities.