Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Is selecting better than modifying? An investigation of arguments against germline gene editing as compared to preimplantation genetic diagnosis


von Hammerstein, Alix Lenia; Eggel, Matthias; Biller-Andorno, Nikola (2019). Is selecting better than modifying? An investigation of arguments against germline gene editing as compared to preimplantation genetic diagnosis. BMC Medical Ethics, 20:83.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Recent scientific advances in the field of gene editing have led to a renewed discussion on the moral acceptability of human germline modifications. Gene editing methods can be used on human embryos and gametes in order to change DNA sequences that are associated with diseases. Modifying the human germline, however, is currently illegal in many countries but has been suggested as a 'last resort' option in some reports. In contrast, preimplantation genetic (PGD) diagnosis is now a well-established practice within reproductive medicine. Both methods can be used to prevent children from being born with severe genetic diseases.
MAIN TEXT
This paper focuses on four moral concerns raised in the debate about germline gene editing (GGE) and applies them to the practice of PGD for comparison: Violation of human dignity, disrespect of the autonomy and the physical integrity of the future child, discrimination of people living with a disability and the fear of slippery slope towards immoral usage of the technology, e.g. designing children for specific third party interests. Our analysis did not reveal any fundamental differences with regard to the four concerns.
CONCLUSION
We argue that with regard to the four arguments analyzed in this paper germline gene editing should be considered morally (at least) as acceptable as the selection of genomes on the basis of PGD. However, we also argue that any application of GGE in reproductive medicine should be put on hold until thorough and comprehensive laws have been implemented to prevent the abuse of GGE for non-medical enhancement.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
Recent scientific advances in the field of gene editing have led to a renewed discussion on the moral acceptability of human germline modifications. Gene editing methods can be used on human embryos and gametes in order to change DNA sequences that are associated with diseases. Modifying the human germline, however, is currently illegal in many countries but has been suggested as a 'last resort' option in some reports. In contrast, preimplantation genetic (PGD) diagnosis is now a well-established practice within reproductive medicine. Both methods can be used to prevent children from being born with severe genetic diseases.
MAIN TEXT
This paper focuses on four moral concerns raised in the debate about germline gene editing (GGE) and applies them to the practice of PGD for comparison: Violation of human dignity, disrespect of the autonomy and the physical integrity of the future child, discrimination of people living with a disability and the fear of slippery slope towards immoral usage of the technology, e.g. designing children for specific third party interests. Our analysis did not reveal any fundamental differences with regard to the four concerns.
CONCLUSION
We argue that with regard to the four arguments analyzed in this paper germline gene editing should be considered morally (at least) as acceptable as the selection of genomes on the basis of PGD. However, we also argue that any application of GGE in reproductive medicine should be put on hold until thorough and comprehensive laws have been implemented to prevent the abuse of GGE for non-medical enhancement.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics
2 citations in Web of Science®
1 citation in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

29 downloads since deposited on 17 Dec 2019
20 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Issues, Ethics and Legal Aspects
Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Health Sciences > Health Policy
Language:English
Date:21 November 2019
Deposited On:17 Dec 2019 14:00
Last Modified:15 May 2020 11:36
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1472-6939
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-019-0411-9
PubMed ID:31752935

Download

Gold Open Access

Download PDF  'Is selecting better than modifying? An investigation of arguments against germline gene editing as compared to preimplantation genetic diagnosis'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 635kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)