Identifying key developments, issues and questions relating to techniques of genome editing with engineered nucleases

Background Paper

Published 01/02/2015

Network pattern stoneblue

The author was commissioned by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to write this paper in order to inform the Council’s discussions about possible future work on this topic. The paper is intended to provide an overview of key clinical, ethical, social, legal and policy issues, but is not intended to offer any conclusions or recommendations regarding future policy and practice. Any views expressed in the paper are the author’s own and not those of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.


Dr Ainsley J. Newson, University of Sydney, Australia

Dr Anthony Wrigley, Keele University, UK


This paper discusses scientific, ethical and governance aspects of genome editing with engineered nucleases. First, the scientific state of the art for three major genome editing techniques and their current applications in humans, animals and plants are discussed. Ethical concepts and issues arising from these technologies are then identified. The next section raises considerations pertaining to governance of genome editing. Finally, questions for the Council to consider are raised.