Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (65)

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 »
March 3, 2016

Upcoming Public Meeting and Webcast about Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques

Last week, I wrote about the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recent report “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social, and Policy Considerations.”  A public discussion of this report, with an accompanying webcast, has been scheduled for March 21, 2016, beginning at 1:30 pm Eastern time, in Washington, D.C. Here is a link to the webpage for the meeting.  That page includes a separate link to register to... // Read More »
March 1, 2016

I am – is it?

This past summer, researchers at RPI’s Cognitive Science Department programmed three Nao robots to see if they could pass a test of self-awareness. Modeled after the classic “Wisemen Puzzle”, the robots were asked whether or not they had been given a “dumbing pill” (in this case, a tap on their head, which muted their verbal output) or a placebo. The test not only required the... // Read More »
February 25, 2016

“3-Parent Babies”—Half-Speed Ahead?

Three weeks ago, the Institute of Medicine released its FDA-requested report “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social, and Policy Considerations.”  The report may be read online, or a prepublication pdf copy may be downloaded for free, at this link. In view is the so-called “3-parent babies” technology, intended to treat inherited diseases of the mitochondria, components (called “organelles”) of a cell that are responsible for producing... // Read More »
February 4, 2016

The next round of conversations about gene editing

This blog has carried several posts about the ethical issues surrounding gene editing in humans.  The next round of public discussions is scheduled for next week, Feb. 11-12. The National Academies of Science and Medicine have been holding meetings to address the state of the science and the attendant ethical issues.  In December, a first meeting was held in Washington, DC.  That meeting produced a... // Read More »
January 15, 2016

The End of Meaningful Use: A Meaningful Opportunity

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said Monday that 2016 would likely see the end of the meaningful use program. Meaningful use is a carrot-and-stick government program designed to get medical providers to use electronic health records (EHRs) and to set standards for using them. The carrot: medical providers who show compliance with meaningful use regulations get incentive payments... // Read More »
January 7, 2016

A Book for Anyone Interested in Bioethics

Being Human: Core Readings in the Humanities, edited by Leon Kass, is one book worth a spot on the shelf of anyone interested in bioethics or concerns about human dignity.  A series of excerpts from things that we read—or should have read—in high school or college, it was selected by the members of President George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics in 2003.  The readings... // 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.