February 23, 2024

Sweden debates germline gene therapy

A government committee in Sweden has recommended that therapeutic cloning be legalised and that scientists be allowed to do research on germline gene therapy. Although approval by Parliament seems likely, it will not be all smooth sailing. Under a convention on human rights and biomedicine set down by the Council of Europe, cloning embryos is forbidden. Sweden could seek an exemption, but would have to demonstrate why this research is needed.

At the moment, germline therapy is only a distant dream and even the Committee of Genetic Integrity feels that in practice it should be banned. But scientists still want to be able to investigate its potential benefits and risks.

Per Landgren, a member of the committee and an MP, criticised the proposal for germline therapy. “I could approve of the principle in a context wholly conducive to life, but I don’t want to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of human lives in the early phases before the researchers know how to do this.”