Tag: biotechnology

Blog Posts (58)

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 »
December 31, 2015

“Shrinking” IRBs and Cutting-Edge Bioethics

A recent conversation from my IRB work—for several reasons, I must limit the details of the case: An IRB had received, for review and approval, a research protocol for gene editing of human embryos obtained from an IVF clinic.  The embryos would be at about the 150-cell stage—an early stage at which some (incorrectly, as I understand the science) believe a fertilized, dividing-and-differentiating zygote has... // Read More »
December 19, 2015

Medical Care and the Boundaries of Technology

In a recent post entitled “A View from the Other Side: Roboticized Care,” I recounted my recent encounters with the healthcare system from the perspective of a patient. Some of those observations deserve further reflection. Technology is, indeed, a wonderful gift, benefiting mankind in innumerable ways. But technology has transgressed its boundaries largely because we have failed to set or enforce boundaries for it. From... // Read More »
December 16, 2015

Undiscussed issues in the debate over human germline genetic modification

Jon Holmlund’s 12/10 post on the use of somatic cell gene modification to treat sickle cell disease and two recent articles in The Telegraph have me thinking about human germline genetic modification again. One of the points in Jon’s post was that somatic cell genetic modification does not have the ethical problems of germ line genetic modification. The Telegraph articles discuss a group that has... // Read More »
December 11, 2015

Ethical Human Gene Editing for Sickle Cell Anemia

The biggest ethical worry about human gene editing is that it will be used to make long-lasting, heritable changes at the embryo stage or on germ (sperm or egg) cells.  Posts earlier this year have asked whether we should envision a scenario in which human germline gene editing is accepted in a limited number of cases, with the treatment of sickle cell anemia being proposed... // Read More »
December 4, 2015

Human Gene Editing: Half Speed Ahead?

A 3-day international conference on human gene editing has ended, with the conferees reportedly having issued a statement declaring it would be “irresponsible” to try to initiate a human pregnancy with an embryo that had some genes edited by modern techniques, much less create a human embryo using sperm or an egg that had been gene-edited.  In the latter case, the changes would be heritable,... // Read More »
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 »

View More Blog Entries

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.