BIA reacts to the International Commission of Heritable Genome Editing Report

Last week a new important report by an international commission of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.K.’s Royal Society said human embryos whose genomes have been edited should not be used to create a pregnancy until it is established that precise genomic changes can be made reliably without introducing undesired changes — a criterion they assess has not yet been met by any genome editing technology.

The Commission set out that if a nation decides that heritable human genome editing (HHGE) is permissible, initial uses should be limited to the prevention of serious monogenic diseases, which result from the mutation of one or both copies of a single gene — for example, cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, and Tay-Sachs disease.

From an industry perspective, this important International Commission report provides the needed expert basis on which nations can base societal discussions about heritable human genome editing.

We are fortunate that the UK is a democratic world leader in the extensive societal dialogue, which the report argues is needed before any country decides whether to permit clinical use of heritable human genome editing. As this debate is likely to be with us in the months and years ahead, the report is required reading for any company or investor interested in the potential use of genome editing technology for human health, in part because it sets out disease areas where initial use may be most valid.   

Here are some links that I have found useful in my understanding of this issue:

Royal Society - Heritable Genome Editing Report 


National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine

I’d be interested in hearing members views on this important topic, so do please contact me or my colleague Eric Johnsson.

For more information on Genomics, please follow this link. And for more information on cell and gene therapies, please follow this link.

Best wishes

Steve Bates

Steve Bates

Chief Executive Officer


Steve Bates has been the CEO of the UK Bioindustry Association since 2012. He currently chairs the International Council of Biotech Associations and has been a Board member of Europabio since 2015. Steve is the visible face of the vibrant UK life sciences industry to government and media. He sits on the UK’s Life Sciences Council and Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Board. Steve has championed with government effective industrial incentives like the Biomedical Cataylst which have crowded-in private sector investment into UK SMES. He has forged links for the sector across the USA, Europe and in China. In his time at the BIA Steve has developed new member groups focused on cell and gene therapy, genomics and engineered biology. A strong advocate of partnership working, Steve champions sector collaboration with research charities and academia. Proud to lead an organisation with a diverse Board with over 40% female representation, Steve is committed to next generation talent and developing the skills needed for the sector to flourish. Before the BIA, Steve worked for Genzyme and as an advisor to the UK Government of Tony Blair. He was made OBE for services to innovation in 2017.

Eric Johnsson

Policy and Public Affairs Executive


Eric joined the BIA in March 2017. Previously he worked for the NHS in patient confidentiality and data protection. As a student, in Australia and Scotland, he held part-time positions in legal and parliamentary research.

Originally from Sweden, Eric holds a 1st Class Masters degree in International Economic Law from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations from Murdoch University in Australia.

In his spare time, Eric enjoys the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and travelling to warm and sunny locations.