The Takshashila Institution conducted a Roundtable on the Governance of Gene Editing at their office on 15 December 2017. The advent of new gene editing methods like CRISPR-Cas9 have increased the potential of gene editing technologies with their increased precision and reduced costs. This has brought decade old debates about the scientific risks and ethical conundrums of gene editing back to the forefront.
These concerns are amplified when the editing is done on human genes. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has multiple non-enforceable guidelines that touch upon aspects of human gene editing. However, there is still no specific guideline that deals with all the issues of gene editing separately. The Roundtable was convened to help determine a gene editing policy for human gene editing by convening some of the best minds working on the issue.
The Roundtable began with a round of introductions and preliminary views before Dr. Shambhavi Naik presented a proposal of the broad contours for ICMR guidelines on human gene editing. These proposed guidelines implement many of the concepts included in Takshashila Institution’s Discussion Document: A Framework for Governing Gene Editing, a document that she co-authored. Dr. Vijay Chandru, who was chairing the event, then made some opening remarks before discussions were opened up to the table. Topics ranged from whether a more enforceable regulation should be preferred to ICMR guidelines to what the specific standards and protocols should be to conduct research.
A detailed report of the discussions and inputs has been published in a Blue Paper.