Genome Editing: Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Team: Alexander Lang (Project Coordinator), Helmut Hönigmayer, Florian Winkler, Milena Wuketich
Duration: December 2017–February 2019
Project Partners: TU Graz (Armin Spök), Katholische Privatuniversität Linz (Michael Fuchs, Lukas Kaelin), Universität Luzern (Malte Gruber)
Funding: TA-Swiss Stiftung für Technologiefolgen-Abschätzung

Project Information: Genome Editing methods such as TALEN, ZFN and especially the recently discovered CRISPR/Cas9 method allow a more precise and efficient modification of the genome of small organisms, plants, animals and humans than their predecessors. Researchers have been using these methods for some years now and have great expectations with regards to their future application in medicine, agriculture, industry and elsewhere. They hope that yet unsuccessful enterprises become possible soon, including somatic gene therapy or xenotransplantation.
This interdisciplinary technology assessment study investigates the risks and possibilities as well as ethical and legal questions that arise from the use of genome editing methods in different domains including agriculture (modification of plants or livestock), the environment (gene drive) and human medicine (xenotransplantation, somatic gene therapy, germline gene therapy). Thereby it will focus on the Swiss context and investigates the appropriateness of existing regulation. Furthermore, it will explore the economic potentials of Genome Editing methods for Swiss companies.

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