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Stem Cells & Society Workshop

Recent high-profile rulings on mitochondrial donation and the development of CRISPR technology have reawakened the debate surrounding gene editing.

In January 2016, Cambridge University's Stem Cells Interdisciplinary Research Centre and the Public Policy Strategic Research Initiative convened a one-day workshop to discuss the issues around gene editing.  The event aimed to catalyse Cambridge’s response to the opportunities offered by stem cell research, and to engage with relevant stakeholders to consider hopes and fears surrounding gene editing.

The workshop brought together a select group of scientists, bioethicists, social scientists and policy makers to discuss the opportunities that may emerge from gene editing technology, the ethical and legal implications of developments, and to discuss what appropriate policy measures need to be in place in order to support the appropriate evolution of gene editing technology.

Whilst the biggest application of CRISPR technology remains in basic research, the different areas covered by gene editing – from human stem cells and gene therapy, to diseases in animals and genetically modified crops – show its huge potential.

Our report discusses some of the specific ethical, legal and policy issues relating to gene editing in human stem cells, including further international regulation and agreement on research into the human genome, and the type of policy development required around gene editing, including assessing both the opportunities and risks it presents.

To read the Stem Cells and Society Workshop report, click here.