(CNN)Genetically-modified babies are "highly desirable" to help protect people from disease and could be created ethically within two years, according to a new scientific paper.
Gene editing now presents such low risks that it could be used in human embryos, according to an analysis by Kevin Smith, a bioethicist at Abertay University in Scotland, published last week in the journal Bioethics.
Advocates like Smith want to change the genetic makeup of embryos to prevent the transmission of gene-related diseases.
However, the practice is hugely controversial due to fears that it could be used to create "designer babies" whose genes have been edited for non-therapeutic purposes.
In November 2018 Chinese scientist He Jiankui sparked outrage after announcing he had created the first genetically-modified babies in the world from embryos altered to make them resistant to HIV.
But Smith says their creation is ethically justifiable and would offer hope to parents at risk of transmitting serious genetic disease to their offspring, according to a statement.