Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (18)

July 11, 2014

The Recent Stem Cell News

Last week’s edition of Nature includes developments in the world of stem cell research, also noted in the general press: First: A group from Portland, San Diego, and Stockholm published work (payment required to read article) seeking to define the “best” human pluripotent stem cells on cellular and molecular grounds.  They compared: Stem cells taken from an embryo, created in IVF and destroyed for the... // Read More »
June 14, 2014

Making Babies; the New “Normal”

Once upon a time in a fairy tale land that now seems far, far away, young people fell in love, got married, and started a family. But the idea of “starting a family” has taken on new meaning as pregnancy has come under the rubric of technological control. Increasingly, it is not about having children but about “making babies.” With the advent of technology and... // Read More »
June 12, 2014

Germline Alteration and Defining “Just Research”

Yesterday’s post by Steve Phillips raises a central question for us in the “biotech century”:  are there some sorts of experiments that fundamentally ought not be done because of the potential they will be grossly misapplied by bad actors?  Steve cited research by Lord Robert Winston seeking to create genetically altered pigs—that seem, from the description in the press, to be what scientists call “transgenic”... // Read More »
June 12, 2014

Great Suffering Software

[BioEdge] Most bioethical discourse deals with tangible, nitty-gritty situations like surrogate mothers, stem cells, abortion, assisted suicide, or palliative care. But there is a theoretical avant garde in bioethics, too. Theoretical bioethics tries to anticipate ethical issues which could arise if advanced technology becomes available. There are always a lot of ifs – but these are what bring joy to an […]
June 11, 2014

New method for genetic modification – genetic alteration of sperm

Germline genetic modification is a technique that some find intriguing and many find very concerning when its use is considered in humans. However there are uses of germline genetic modifications in animals that may impact humans in multiple ways. In an article in The Telegraph, British researcher Robert Winston talks about current research to develop animal organs (usually from pigs) that could be genetically modified... // Read More »
June 6, 2014

Low T, marketing, youth, and sex

Hormone replacement therapy is back in the news: not estrogen/progesterone for women, but testosterone for men. There are some similarities between the two therapies. Each was/is heralded by claims for the amazing cures it would/will provide for a multitude of life’s ailments. Estrogen/progesterone was prescribed for legions of women with a lot of assumptions that it would do wonderful things like help dementia and cardiovascular... // Read More »
May 29, 2014

“The Power of Three”

That is the title of a news piece accessible at Nature’s website this week.  It refers to something that Steve Phillips and I posted on back in February; to wit, the potential for “three parent babies” resulting from the transfer of a nucleus (and its genetic material) from a diseased mother’s egg cell into the enucleated egg from a healthy donor.  (I am skipping important... // Read More »
May 15, 2014

The Price of an Orphan (Drug)

The editors of Nature Biotechnology are concerned that the UK’s National Center for Clinical Excellence, codenamed “NICE,” asked a drug company to justify a very high price for a very effective drug for a very rare disease, by asking the company to explain how much it cost to develop the drug to begin with.  These rare diseases are called “orphan drugs,” and incentives are written... // Read More »
May 8, 2014

“Faking” Life?

Synthetic biology—loosely defined as the intersection of engineering and biology—is a burgeoning field with the potential to create or alter “non-naturally” occurring organisms using basic biomolecules, or similar molecules not found in living things as we encounter them.  A few years ago, Dr. Craig Venter’s group in San Diego synthesized the entire DNA of one species of mycobacterium on a lab bench, added some identifier... // Read More »
May 1, 2014

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” about Adult Stem Cells?

This week, Nature has an online news article and editorial about a new meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).  The BMJ article addresses discrepancies in published reports of clinical trials of adult stem cells to treat patients with heart disease/heart failure.  For some time now, this has appeared to many to be a particularly promising use of adult stem cells. Well, not so... // 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.