A new research study published in the Science journal shows that people are interested to be part of a public discussion involving the editing of the human genome. This means that the conversation between the scientists, the officials, and the people needs to take place now.
Time is now
Co-author of the study Dietram Scheufele believes that it is high time for the general public to start discussing this important matter now, a time when technology is still developing. The results are based on a survey in which 1,600 adults from the U.S participated during December 2016 and January 2017.
The purpose of the study was to detect the public opinion on a technology technique which is fast evolving. Gene editing tools such as CRISPR makes editing human DNA easier and precise. Researchers in the US have already managed to edit human embryos and to correct a gene mutation which causes serious heart conditions.
What is the public opinion?
Gene editing implies many factors: for example a human genome for therapeutic purposes can be edited to treat certain disease or to enhance human capabilities such as intelligence. The public opinion is important especially since the research on human gene editing is still on its infancy.
Scheufele believed that most people will not agree with germline editing, but it turns out that people were more preoccupied with enhancing rather than disease treating.
The survey showed that most of the subjects were in favor of using gene editing to treat medical conditions. Also, the majority believe that human gene editing is acceptable for treating diseases. The research also showed that those in favor have more knowledge on the subject than those opposing or those of certain religions.