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This week at the Progress Educational Trust (9 October 2017)


The Progress Educational Trust (PET) is pleased to publish the findings of its 'Basic Understanding of Genome Editing' project, carried out jointly with fellow charity Genetic Alliance UK and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The project explored what patients and laypeople think and know about genome editing and its implications, and developed recommendations for how best to discuss genome editing in public. There has never been a more important time for people to get to grips with this subject, when the headlines are dominated by news of researchers editing the genomes of human embryos.

Such embryo research has recently been carried out:

The final example is especially relevant to PET's project as the Chinese researchers did not employ the CRISPR approach to genome editing, but instead used an alternative approach known as 'base editing'. In his article 'How should we discuss genome editing in public?', in PET's flagship publication BioNews (to which you can subscribe for free here), PET Communications Officer Sandy Starr argues that this bears out one of the Key Recommendations of PET's report.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader in Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute and speaker at 'Creating Life in the Lab: In Vitro Gametogenesis (IVG) and Synthetic Human Entities With Embryo-Like Features (SHEEFs)' - Session 2 at the Progress Educational Trust's one-day conference 'Crossing Frontiers: Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction', taking place at Amnesty International in London on Friday 8 December 2017 'How should we discuss genome editing in public?', an article by Sandy Starr (Communications Officer at the Progress Educational Trust and Webmaster of PET's flagship publication BioNews)
'Prioritise explaining the use(s) of genome editing over explaining the mechanism(s) via which genome editing works. Deprioritise the term "CRISPR" - do not use the term interchangeably with genome editing (as CRISPR is just one possible approach to genome editing), and think carefully about whether and when it is necessary to refer to CRISPR at all.'

The Chinese research using base editing has been discussed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme by Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute. Listen to the interview here.


Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, Professor of Mammalian Development and Stem Cell Biology at the University of Cambridge and speaker at 'Creating Life in the Lab: In Vitro Gametogenesis (IVG) and Synthetic Human Entities With Embryo-Like Features (SHEEFs)' - Session 2 at the Progress Educational Trust's one-day conference 'Crossing Frontiers: Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction', taking place at Amnesty International in London on Friday 8 December 2017Professor Azim Surani, Director of Germline and Epigenomics Research at the University of Cambridge and speaker at 'Creating Life in the Lab: In Vitro Gametogenesis (IVG) and Synthetic Human Entities With Embryo-Like Features (SHEEFs)' - Session 2 at the Progress Educational Trust's one-day conference 'Crossing Frontiers: Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction', taking place at Amnesty International in London on Friday 8 December 2017 Robin is one of the experts who will be speaking at PET's upcoming Annual Conference 'Crossing Frontiers: Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction', taking place in London on Friday 8 December 2017. The stellar lineup of speakers also includes:

The conference is supported by the Anne McLaren Memorial Trust Fund and the Edwards and Steptoe Research Trust Fund (silver sponsors), and by Ferring Pharmaceuticals and the London Women's Clinic (bronze sponsors).

The conference agenda can be found here, and details of attendance fees and how to book can be found here. If tweeting about the conference, please use the hashtag #petconf17. If you have any queries, please email

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