FDA Regulation of Clinical Applications of CRISPR-CAS Gene-Editing Technology

Evita v. Grant


Scientists have repurposed an adaptive immune system of single cell organisms to create a new type of gene-editing tool: CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas technology. Scientists in China have reported its use in the genome modification of non-viable human embryos. This has ignited a spirited debate about the moral, ethical, scientific, and social implications of human germline genome engineering. There have also been calls for regulations; however, FDA has yet to formally announce its oversight of clinical applications of CRISPR-Cas systems. This paper reviews FDA regulation of previously controversial biotechnology breakthroughs, recombinant DNA and human cloning. It then shows that FDA is well positioned to regulate CRISPR-Cas clinical applications, due to its legislative mandates, its existing regulatory frameworks for gene therapies and assisted reproductive technologies, and other considerations.