Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (50)

November 5, 2015

So are “reprogrammed” stem cells “just as good” as those from embryos?

There is considerable enthusiasm for the use of “reprogrammed” pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, for use in the laboratory and as possible cellular treatment for people with certain injuries or diseases.  This enthusiasm is warranted; human iPSCs (hiPSCs) are readily obtained, and without the destruction of a human embryo as is needed to obtain a “natural” human embryonic stem cell (hESC).  Therefore, iPSCs are often... // Read More »
September 25, 2015

A bit more about “3-parent babies”

It is reported that the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issued guidelines last week to govern the practice of mitochondrial transfer, which the UK government approved in February.  In this case, the term “mitochondrial transfer” refers to any of several possible techniques that could be used to allow women with certain rare but debilitating diseases of the mitochondria—the “energy factories” of the cell—to... // Read More »
September 23, 2015

Frozen embryos: the product of acting before we think

A recent article in the LA Times about a current divorce case in which there is dispute about what will happen to five frozen embryos created by the couple reminds us that our society is conflicted about what to think about cryopreserved embryos. This is an example of how technology and its ability to enable us to do whatever we desire to do gets ahead... // Read More »
August 13, 2015

Baby, You Can’t Drive Those Genes

One risky aspect of the practice of gene editing—exploding because of the powerful CRISPR/Cas9 technique—is the prospect for widespread and permanent genetic alteration of whole species from a process called “gene drive.” In classical genetics, initially defined by the 19th-century Moravian cleric Gregor Mendel, frequency of the inheritance of genes is controlled by more or less simple arithmetic.  Higher organisms (animals and man) have two... // Read More »
July 31, 2015

On the Safety Argument Against Gene Editing

As discussed in an exchange earlier this year on this blog, one of the concerns about editing the human germline is that the risks to the next generation and future generations are not predictable, and the experiments to address those safety concerns cannot be done ethically.  Go here, and to the embedded links, to review.  Recently, Paige Cunningham and Michael Sleasman of the Center for... // Read More »
May 14, 2015

Still More on Gene Editing

Joe Gibes (May 9) and Steve Phillips (May 13) took up the challenge I posted last week: to address whether human germline gene editing, even in a hypothetically-narrow example case, is morally unacceptable in some intrinsic sense, and therefore something that ought never be attempted or, for that matter, pursued in the laboratory.  If you have not read their posts, please do so. To come... // Read More »
May 8, 2015

Gene Editing—Trying to Get Specific

In a comment last week, Mark McQuain pointed out the article “Engineering the Perfect Baby” in the MIT Technology Review.  Freely accessible online, it describes, in non-technical terms, several of the routes that genetic editing may follow.  Perhaps the most explosive:  adult skin cell transformed into an induced pleuripotent stem cell that then is used to give rise to germ cells that are then genetically... // Read More »
April 30, 2015

More on Gene Editing

The recently-public discussion of gene editing has been going on for over a month now.  I have been meaning to try to catch up with some of it.  Tuesday’s post by Courtney Thiele got there first.  This post will attempt to amplify a bit on what Courtney wrote. As Courtney pointed out, the technology involves making selective genetic changes of interest, including, but clearly not... // Read More »
April 27, 2015

Unenhanced Thoughts about Neural Enhancement

An April 20th post in the Hastings Center’s “Bioethics Forum” brings attention the recent report by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (PCSBI) entitled, “Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.” Chapter 2, “Cognitive Enhancement and Beyond” is a useful summary of issues surrounding “cognitive enhancement,” and provides a brief overview of three scientific goals: maintaining or improving... // Read More »
April 16, 2015

A Drive-By Shot at the Concept of “Liberal Neutrality”

A couple of writings by Gregory Kaebnick, the editor of the Hastings Center Report, have my attention these days, and I hope to deal with them in my next few posts.  For the moment, I intend to seize on one point he makes in “Engineered Microbes in Industry and Science,” his chapter in a book he co-edited with Thomas Murray, 2013’s Synthetic Biology and Morality. ... // 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.