mike, I am starting to like this idea of community consent.
Scientists often just go out there and do things without any clear notion of how the wider community will react.
With this latest development, the scientist did try to make some effort in gauging popular sentiment, though this
was more of a yea nay popular opinion poll on whether people approve/disapprove of gene editing for serious
diseases. Clearly the actual response will be more fine-grained than that (as was recently demonstrated).
The International Moratorium on Gene Editing proposed at the Washington meeting in 2015, did not lead to the
needed dialogue of how gene editing might actually move forward. Without such a discussion and the guidance
that would follow from it, the news from last week is not overly unexpected.
As a community, we should give the question of editing APOE4 or other dementia gene careful consideration. APOE4
and Alzheimer's more generally is perhaps the disease that most frightens people in the 21st Century. It would hardly be
surprising to wake up one day to be told that CRISPRed babies had been born lacking epsilon 4 or had the A673T APP
variant edited in. It would be best to discuss this now before such a headline is our breakfast reading.
My personal opinion is that an APOE e34 embryo would not be a particularly good gene edit target for CRISPR. Using PGD and then embryo selecting would seem to be a better choice. However, this would not be effective for couples one of which was homozygous for e4. With an e44 embryo, one could also likely consider PGD. The only guaranteed e44 embryo would result from 2 e44s which would be quite rare. Parents to be with this genotype might pursue a CRISPR approach to change the embryo to e33. Yet, with such an edit, one could not just hit APOE somewhere near the epsilon loci. Epsilon 4 gene editing would need to have base pair editing precision.