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Author Archive: Jon Holmlund

About Jon Holmlund

The title does not mean societal or legal control of gene editing technology.  Rather, it speaks of controlling, or shutting off, a specific gene editing process.  In retrospect, it had to be the case that there is a resistance, or control, mechanism for the CRISPR system, the gene-editing machinery that functions as a way for …

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A writer in Nature says that China sent a “strong signal” by punishing He Jiankui and two colleagues with fines, jail times, and bans against working again in human reproductive technology or applying for research funding.  (They lost their jobs as well and may not be able to do research work, presumably in any field, …

Continue reading "Chastening and enthusiasm about genome editing"

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As Joy Riley pointed out on this blog on December 7, the world and the scientific community recently marked, with almost no fanfare, the one-year birthday of “Lulu” and “Nana,” the first (we think) and still only (we think) humans to have had their genes edited heritably—in a way that will be passed on to …

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Yesterday’s post to this blog addressed physicians’ conscience rights.  The standard shape of arguments about preserving individual physicians’ conscience rights goes, broadly, like this:  certain actions now sanctioned by society (e.g., abortion, assisted suicide) have been embraced by the medical profession as standard medical care which all physicians should be willing to perform, but this …

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One caution when objecting to the prospect of heritable human gene editing is to take care not to overestimate what it technically possible.  That is, an all-too-easy argument is that attempts to edit a disease gene will lead, by momentum if nothing else, to “designer babies,” with children not just being genetically selected but in …

Continue reading "Skepticism about polygene scores to select for IQ and height"

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Nature reports that Russian scientist Denis Rebrikov has started experiments intended to lead to editing a gene, in human oocytes (egg cells) associated with human deafness.  Prior reports had claimed that he was working on eggs from deaf women in an attempt to repair the defect and, presumably, provide a normal egg for IVF.  This …

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Yesterday’s post on this blog, by Steve Phillips, warned that a narrow, “rules limited” approach to bioethics reduces ethics in science and medicine to matters of regulatory compliance and risks making thoroughly logical conclusions based on faulty premises that are adopted without regarding “deeper ethical thinking” for which scientists’ thinking must be brought under the …

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Readers of this blog may have seen the report in the general press that, after three decades of increases, the rate of twin births in the U.S. has declined by 4% from 2014 to 2018. Those three decades correspond to the era of IVF, since the birth of Louise Brown in England in 1978.  It …

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Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing is a new collection of essays, edited by Erik Parens and Josephine Johnson.  In the introduction, the editors explain they are concerned with “nonphysical harms” of human gene editing.  That is, these harms would not affect bodily systems, but harm “people’s psyches…[their] experiences of being persons,” and …

Continue reading "“Velvet Eugenics”"

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09/12/2019 Two developments
A new effort at “somatic” gene editing in China is reported this week.  The key summary: “As the researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine, they transplanted [blood stem] cells that had undergone CRISPR-based editing [of a gene that encodes for a receptor, or “docking station”] into a patient with HIV and acute lymphoblastic …

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