Correcting and rewriting human genomes: applications and rules
Chairperson: Rossella Panarese
By: Gruppo Ospedaliero San Donato
Gene editing technologies use molecular scalpels like those deriving from CRISPR to perform surgery on DNA, deactivating or ‘rewriting’ gene sequences for the purposes of achieving a desired result. Many new advanced therapy doors are opening: strengthening the action of the immune cells against tumours, removing blocks on their action; transplanting cells which are invisible to the immune system thus avoiding them being rejected; and correcting the gene mutations which cause illness accurately. If the efficacy and safety of molecular scalpels continues to increase, important aspects requiring wide ranging public debate will emerge relating to access to these treatments and including issues relating to the commercial exploitation of the various technologies and controls to establish clinical efficacy. Given that the rewriting we are speaking of affects cells which die off when individuals themselves die, the recent episode of the Chinese biologist who claimed to have modified the genome of two children, making the change hereditary, raises old debates on the ethical acceptability of modifying genes which go beyond individual life span to enter the species’ gene pool.
These subject matters will be covered by Professor Luigi Naldini, Director of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy and Professor Luca Pani, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Miami