Where is Jennifer Doudna? This is the first thought most journalists had – me included – when reading the list of signatories to the call for the moratorium on heritable genome editing just published by Nature. The Boston team is well represented by Lander, Zhang and Liu (nobody would expect George Church to join that call). But the magnificent couple Doudna-Charpentier has conspicuously split up.
The news here is that leading scientists are divided on this most delicate matter, as Jon Cohen reports in Science. But as a CRISPR enthusiast, I’m also facing the sorrow for the latest stage of CRISPR parental divorce. D&C collaboration marked the beginning of the CRISPR saga but lasted the time of the series’ first episode. Now the French microbiologist supports the official call to ban CRISPR babies while the American biochemist disagrees. She would prefer “strict regulation that precludes use” of germline editing until the technique and the society are ready “to a moratorium which, to me, is of indefinite length and provides no pathway toward possible responsible use.”