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Author Archive: Jon Holmlund

About Jon Holmlund

02/01/2018

Fertility with frozen eggs: not a sure thing

In case you didn’t see it, the Washington Post has this story about how more women are trying to improve their overall chances of having a baby—particularly in the later reproductive years of their 30’s and 40’s—but success is far from certain.  Human oocytes (eggs) are fragile things, and it was not until recent years that freezing techniques developed to a point that would allow... // Read More »

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01/24/2018

Update on clinical studies of human gene editing

The January 22 edition of The Wall Street Journal carried an article the essential message of which was, “the Chinese are ahead of us in gene editing.”  Specifically, more human clinical trials are active in China than in the US using gene editing in some form to treat people with specific diseases.  Some of these trials use the “hot, new” CRISPR-Cas9 approach to gene editing. ... // Read More »

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01/18/2018

What’s really happening with doctor-assisted suicide?

Recently, Wesley Smith posted on the National Review’s “Corner” blog new concerns that Oregon’s “Death With Dignity” law may not be as tightly regulated as advertised.  Specifically, a Swedish fellow named Fabian Stahle, who evidently is troubled by the prospect that his country might embrace doctor-assisted suicide, claims to have carried out an e-mail exchange with someone in the Oregon Health Authority to ask how... // Read More »

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12/14/2017

“Nervy” SHEEFs, pain, and moral status

In May of this year, my brief essays (literally, “attempts”) on synthetic human entities with embryo-like features, or SHEEFs for short, sought to ask what sort of human cellular constructs might or might not enjoy full human moral status; to wit, the right to life.  Some experimenters with SHEEFs have suggested that, since they may bypass the early (14 days of life) markers that normal,... // Read More »

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11/16/2017

More about gene therapy and human gene editing

To my post of last week, add the case of a 44 year-old man who has received gene therapy for an inherited metabolic disease called Hunter’s syndrome. This is another example of a form of gene editing as true therapy.  That is, an existing individual is given a construct intended to edit his genes to introduce a gene that makes an enzyme that is lacking... // Read More »

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11/10/2017

There’s gene therapy and there’s gene therapy

I’ve seen a number of different things described in the general press as “gene therapy.” But they are indeed different.  It’s important to be specific. For one, there’s the situation where a set of mature human cells are obtained from the person to be treated and genetically altered outside the body to make them into a potentially useful treatment, then re-administered (by vein) to the... // Read More »

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11/10/2017

There’s gene therapy and there’s gene therapy

I’ve seen a number of different things described in the general press as “gene therapy.” But they are indeed different.  It’s important to be specific. For one, there’s the situation where a set of mature human cells are obtained from the person to be treated and genetically altered outside the body to make them into a potentially useful treatment, then re-administered (by vein) to the... // Read More »

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10/20/2017

Regarding objections to the change in the contraceptive coverage rule

The Journal of the American Medical Association carries a “Viewpoint” piece that categorically rejects the Trump administration’s reversal of its predecessor’s mandate that employer-based health insurance include payments for contraceptives.  As reported in the general press, the current administration’s new stance was hailed by religious and other political conservatives as a welcome support of conscience rights. Read the article here.  Briefly, some key points and... // Read More »

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10/13/2017

Two cases of genetics ethics issues

There is an ongoing NIH-sponsored database effort called the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project the goal of which is to collect data on genetics–not just DNA gene sequences, but also gene activity, looking at “expression,” which is reflected in the RNA that is transcribed from genes–in a wide range of human tissues.  The tissues are obtained from deceased voluntary organ donors.  The ethical issues are not... // Read More »

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10/06/2017

Human gene editing marches on

Nature has recently carried two new reports of human gene editing.  In one, embryos donated from an IVF clinic had a gene critical to very early development altered, to study what happens when you do that, and try to understand early human development more than we now do.  In the other, scientists studied editing of an abnormal recessive gene, specifically the one causing a type... // Read More »

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