Scientists Urge Moratorium on Technique That Could Lead to DNA-Altered Babies

Top scientists, including one of the creators of a genome-editing technique that alters human DNA, Thursday called for a self-imposed moratorium on the technique, saying they fear physicians will push ahead with its use in humans too soon.

“You could exert control over human heredity with this technique, and that is why we are raising the issue,”said California Institute of Technology President Emiritus David Baltimore, a member of the group writing the paper for the journal Science,  reports The New York Times.

The new method, known by the acronym Crispr-Cas9, was invented by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umea University in Sweden.

Doudna, who is director of UC Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Initiative, was lead author on the Science paper. She was joined by five current and two former UC Berkeley scientists, as well as Baltimore, a Nobel laureate; Stanford Nobel Prize winner Paul Berg and scientists from UC San Francisco, Stanford, Harvard, and the universities of Wisconsin and Utah, reports a statement from UC Berkeley. Several of the papers’ authors are currently involved in gene therapy work to cure inherited diseases.