Professor Jacob Sherkow, whose research focuses on the legal and ethical implications of advanced biotechnologies, spoke to the Illinois News Bureau about a paper he recently published in The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. An excerpt from the article follows:
Genome editing of human embryos represents one of the most contentious potential scientific applications today. But what if geneticists could sidestep the controversy by editing sperm and eggs instead?
According to a new paper co-written by a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign legal expert who studies the ethical and policy implications of advanced biotechnologies, how the next Congress decides to handle the issue will affect the science, ethics and financing of genome editing for decades to come.
Although there are a number of statutes and federal appropriation riders that take as their bioethical center the human embryo, none exist that govern the editing of “gametes” – that is, sperm and eggs, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois.
“The current federal funding ban is predicated on a concept of bioethics that focuses on the embryo, and that’s because there’s widespread recognition in U.S. society that embryos have a certain moral salience that other biological components don’t,” he said. “But with advances in biotechnology, you can get around that. You can sidestep editing embryos by editing sperm and eggs, instead.
Read the full article at news.illinois.edu.