Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.
This book will be essential reading for any serious student of either
germline gene therapy, or, as the authors have chosen to expand the category,
"inheritable genetic modification" (IGM). A close reading, however, leaves
uncertain how many such students there will, or should, be.
In September 1997 two programs of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science (AAAS) convened a 20-person working group to study IGM. The authors
define IGM as human technical interventions for the purpose of making genetic
changes in gametes, embryos, fetuses, or born humans that, intentionally or
not, lead to changes that can be passed on to their descendants. These interventions
include germline gene therapy, nuclear or cytoplasmic transfer in oocytes
(which can lead to inheritable changes in mitochondrial DNA), and unintended
effects of somatic cell gene therapy on gametes, among other things. In September
2000 Audrey Chapman and Mark Frankel, the editors of this volume, issued a
60-page report based on the workshop discussions. Their worthy recommendations
called for great care in any use of IGM, including the establishment of a
public body to supervise even its first possible applications. Three years
later, this book followed, its 20 chapters written by Chapman, Frankel, and
17 of the working group members, serving as something in the nature of supporting
material for the earlier AAAS report.
Greely HT. Genetic Modification. JAMA. 2004;292(11):1374-1375. doi:10.1001/jama.292.11.1374