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Human Embryo Experiments

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL5649, tabled on 1 February 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Prior of Brampton on 27 January (HL5039), whether they are now able to say whether a stated aim of the recently approved application by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to perform genome editing in human embryos by means of CRISPR-Cas9 was, and remains, to better understand why miscarriages occur in some pregnancies; and if not, whether the description of that research that will be made public will disclose the specific assay the researchers concerned had proposed using to determine whether embryos subjected to gene editing might be either able or unable to implant in a womb.

Answered on

11 February 2016

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) publishes on its website the inspection report relating to a licence renewal application and the minutes of the Licence Committee’s decision. It does not publish other information associated with a licence application.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) permits the genetic modification of embryos in research, subject to an HFEA licence. As the regulator, the HFEA’s responsibility is to apply the test in the legislation, namely that the research is necessary or desirable for any of the purposes specified in the Act and that the use of embryos is necessary. The Licence Committee has added a condition to the licence that no research using genome editing may take place until it has received approval from an NHS Research Ethics Committee.