University seeks ban on gene-edited babies

This handout picture, released from Japan's Kyoto University Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) on January 23, 2013 shows part of the renal tubule cells (red part) which were differentiated from human stem cells at the CiRA in Kyoto. Researchers in Japan have succeeded in growing human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time in a potential breakthrough for millions with damaged organs who are dependent on dialysis.
PHOTO: AFP/Kyoto University

Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) has called for the prohibition of the use of genome-editing technology for human births at this time.

The comment, announced on the centre's website, was compiled by its ethics division, following reports of a Chinese researcher using genome-editing technology to genetically altered human embryos, which resulted in the birth of twin girls.

The comments, dated Dec. 7, pointed out that genome-editing technology is still in the development stage, and the possibility remains that the twins could suffer unexpected health problems.

It also expressed concern, saying that the recent action makes light of research ethics procedures and could undermine the trust by society in scientific research.

The CiRA is headed by Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka.