By: Taylor Daniel
Recent genetic studies indicate that CRISPR-Cas9, a biological gene-editing mechanism derived from bacteria, may be capable of curing HIV and Sickle Cell Disease. Clinical research for HIV and SCD is prevalent in African nations because of the high incidence of those diseases in all forms. Because past research studies in Africa demonstrate how Western companies can abuse lax ethics regulations in developing African nations, ethics systems must prevent this new, potentially far-reaching CRISPR technology from being prematurely and unethically used on African research participants. In updating current international bioethics frameworks, drafters should pay particular attention to its application in African nations. International bioethics agreements cannot fully protect African research participants, however, until developing countries accord those agreements the power of law. African nations should accelerate the development of unitary systems of ethics laws and education programs unique to the cultural underpinnings of each nation. Only with both the reappraisal of international frameworks to better incorporate traditional African ideals and the development of coherent regional bioethics systems will African research participants be adequately protected.