Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (71)

June 22, 2016

Balancing the benefits and harms of advances in medical technology

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual summer conference of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. This year’s conference was titled Transformations in Care, and it was focused on how medical care is changing and the ethical challenges that go along with those changes. As usual, the conference was excellent with thought-provoking speakers and interesting workshops and paper presentations. One of... // Read More »
June 9, 2016

Mitochondrial replacement boosterism

A new Viewpoint article (available for free, without a prescription) from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) asserts that the United States is acting too slowly to advance mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs), the so-called “3-parent baby” approach that would seek to prevent mitochondrial DNA disease, which is transmitted maternally.  The authors approve of the recent recommendations by the afore-named Institute of Medicine (IOM),... // Read More »
June 2, 2016

Upcoming Update on Human Gene Editing

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will hold a workshop on gene editing July 14-15, 2016 in Washington, D.C.   I regret I will not be able to attend, but interested parties may at least glean some information about the scope of the meeting by following the link to review the program. The information there is necessarily limited, but it looks like most of the presentations... // Read More »
May 27, 2016

A Bump on the Road to “3-Parent Babies”

As described in my post of February 25, and at other times on this blog, efforts are proceeding to apply “mitochondrial replacement techniques” (MRTs) to prevent severe, maternally-inherited mitochondrial disease from being passed on to children of affected women.  MRTs involve attempting to put the nucleus of an egg or embryo from an affected woman into a cell or embryo from an unaffected mom, so... // Read More »
May 20, 2016

Roundup Ready® Humans

Everyone is familiar with Roundup®, arguably the most well-known of any herbicide in the world and my favorite gardening tool. What may be less well known is that Monsanto has created a line of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are resistant to their famous herbicide. Called Roundup Ready®, soybeans in this product line can essentially take a bath in Roundup and still grow up to... // Read More »
May 6, 2016

A Step Toward Ex Vivo Gestation?

The biggest news of the week has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election.  The bigger scoop is that scientists have grown human embryos in the lab for 13 days after fertilization.  The previous record was 9 days.  The work was stopped after 13 days’ maturation because many societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old, the latest point... // Read More »
April 30, 2016

Slouching Towards Gattaca

Genetics is the determinism of our age (“Your destiny is determined by your genes”). It appears more scientific than the determinisms of previous ages such as astrology (“Your destiny is in the stars”) or Marxism (“Your destiny is in economics”), and thus has much greater appeal to the people who look to science for The Answers. News headlines breathlessly report the discovery of the “gene... // Read More »
April 29, 2016

A Bit More about the Minimal Genome

Earlier this week, Mark McQuain posted a nice summary of the recently-published work by J. Craig Venter’s group to identify a “minimal genome” for a type of bacterium, the mycoplasmas, which are, as the group points out, “the simplest cells capable of autonomous growth.”  Mark wondered aloud what the implications would be for our understanding of what it is to be human—how many genes do... // Read More »
April 26, 2016

Genetic Prime Patterns

Last month, Science published the results of an ongoing experiment conceived to determine, among other things, the minimum number of genes necessary for viability in a mycoplasma bacterium. Calling their engineered result Syn 3.0, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) rearranged and reduced the number of genes on the single chromosome of a M. mycoides bacterium and inserted it into a different mycoplasma... // Read More »
April 21, 2016

Public Attitudes about Gene Editing

A recent Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine summarizes the results of several public surveys about the acceptability of gene editing.  This summary, which is freely available to the general public online without a subscription, is worth a read.  I think it’s limited by the fact that most of the surveys listed are old.  Only two were done since 2014, and the... // Read More »

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Published Articles (5)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 11 Issue 1 - Jan 2011

?Doctor, Would You Prescribe a Pill to Help Me ? ?? A National Survey of Physicians on Using Medicine for Human Enhancement

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Review of C. B. Mitchell, E. D. Pellegrino, J. B. Elshtain, J. F. Kilner, and S. B. Rae. Biotechnology and the Human Good

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on Justifying a Presumption of Restraint in Animal Biotechnology Research

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 6 - Jun 2008

Justifying a Presumption of Restraint in Animal Biotechnology Research

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 7 Issue 10 - Oct 2007

Biotechnology and the New Right: Neoconservatism's Red Menace

News (3)

September 10, 2013 4:20 pm

Programmable DNA 'Glue' Self-Assembles Cells

Scientists interested in engineering tissue would like to find a way to get cells and other biological components to organize and assemble into an organ similar to the way they do naturally.

November 13, 2012 5:29 pm

Injectable Sponge Delivers Drugs, Cells, and Structure (R&D)

Bioengineers at Harvard have developed a gel-based sponge that can be molded to any shape, loaded with drugs or stem cells, compressed to a fraction of its size, and delivered via injection. Once inside the body, it pops back to its original shape and gradually releases its cargo, before safely degrading.

July 3, 2012 5:13 pm

A Surgical Implant for Seeing Colors Through Sound (The New York Times)

In his discussions with the hospital bioethics committee, Mr. Harbisson argued that this surgical technique could be used on other people. He said in particular that more sophisticated versions of the sensor could be used for reading, perhaps reducing the need for Braille.