Beyond Mendelian genetics: Anticipatory biomedical ethics and policy implications for the use of CRISPR together with gene drive in humans.

M. W. Nestor and R. L. Wilson,  Journal of Bioethical Inquiry,  2020:1-12. 2020.

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) genome editing has already reinvented the direction of genetic and stem cell research. For more complex diseases it allows scientists to simultaneously create multiple genetic changes to a single cell. Technologies for correcting multiple mutations in an in vivo system are already in development. On the surface, the advent and use of gene editing technologies is a powerful tool to reduce human suffering by eradicating complex disease that has a genetic etiology. Gene drives are CRISPR mediated alterations to genes that allow them to be passed on to subsequent populations at rates that approach one hundred per cent transmission. Therefore, from an anticipatory biomedical ethics perspective, it is possible to conceive gene drive being used with CRISPR to permanently ameliorate aberrant genes from wild-type populations containing mutations. However, there are also a number of possible side effects that could develop as the result of combining gene editing and gene drive technologies in an effort to eradicate complex diseases. In this paper, we critically analyse the hypothesis that the combination of CRISPR and gene drive will have a deleterious effect on human populations from an ethical perspective by developing an anticipatory ethical analysis of the implications for the use of CRISPR together with gene drive in humans.