CRISPR Ethics: Moral Considerations for Applications of a Powerful Tool

Carolyn Brokowski, Mazhar Adli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


With the emergence of CRISPR technology, targeted editing of a wide variety of genomes is no longer an abstract hypothetical, but occurs regularly. As application areas of CRISPR are exceeding beyond research and biomedical therapies, new and existing ethical concerns abound throughout the global community about the appropriate scope of the systems’ use. Here we review fundamental ethical issues including the following: 1) the extent to which CRISPR use should be permitted; 2) access to CRISPR applications; 3) whether a regulatory framework(s) for clinical research involving human subjects might accommodate all types of human genome editing, including editing of the germline; and 4) whether international regulations governing inappropriate CRISPR utilization should be crafted and publicized. We conclude that moral decision making should evolve as the science of genomic engineering advances and hold that it would be reasonable for national and supranational legislatures to consider evidence-based regulation of certain CRISPR applications for the betterment of human health and progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-101
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • CRISPR–Cas9
  • bioengineering
  • genetic engineering
  • genome editing
  • research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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