Blog Posts (104)
February 23, 2017
I want to spend a little time—several consecutive posts—on the subject of heritable gene editing in humans, and on the recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on it. The topic bears more attention than a single blog post, written in a bit of a rush, based on only the initial release of the report, pending a deeper dive. That is... // Read More »
February 17, 2017
As Steve Phillips pointed out yesterday, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has published, in book form, its full report on “Human Gene Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.” On Valentine’s day. (I suppose it’s not so ironic.) The entire report may be downloaded for free through this link. Also available at that page are links to a 4-page summary report and to one-pagers... // Read More »
February 15, 2017
Yesterday the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine release the findings of an expert panel on Human Genome Editing. The most significant of their recommendations relate to human germline genetic editing. They recognize that the techniques for doing this are not yet at the point that they can be considered safe enough to do at the present, but make the assumption... // Read More »
January 22, 2017
What is therapy? This is one question that should occur to the reader of Jill Neimark’s “Unexpected Risks Found In Replacing DNA To Prevent Inherited Disorders.” In referring to the birth of the baby born of three parents last year, the author names it “mitochondrial replacement therapy”: Using a technique called mitochondrial replacement therapy, the researchers combined DNA from two women and one man to bypass... // Read More »
December 14, 2016
When we discuss IVF in the Medical Ethics class that I teach we talk about the concern that IVF opens up the possibility of doing things that are at best morally questionable. There are also concerns that IVF fundamentally alters how children are created and should not be done under any circumstances, but many of my students are not ready to go that far. They... // Read More »
December 11, 2016
The “world’s leading scientists” gathered at University College London on 7 December 2016 to explore extending the 14-day limit on embryo experimentation from 14 days to 28 days. Presently the consensus of that meeting is not known. The Guardian has published a nice summary of the background and future implications of the issue (link HERE). Jon Holmlund offered his comments in this blog back in... // Read More »
December 1, 2016
The journal Nature reports that scientists advising the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HEFA) have judged that attempts to bring so-called “3-parent babies” to birth is “ready for limited clinical testing.” Presumably this means that the underlying technology, mitochondrial replacement, has been tested enough in the laboratory that it’s ready to try for human procreation. Also presumably, HEFA will promulgate rules or guidelines to... // Read More »
October 22, 2016
Medical business opportunities usually seem to make for interesting ethical discussions these days. Forbes recently published an article showcasing Prelude Fertility, an assisted reproduction technology (ART) start-up seeking to combine all the technologies of egg harvesting, cryopreservation and IVF under one umbrella for the purpose of controlling one’s biological clock. Aside from the business issues, the article does a fair job of discussing the medical... // Read More »
October 7, 2016
One version of the headline of a news item in Nature this week is, “UK bioethicists eye designer babies and CRISPR cows.” The UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics has just released a report, “Genome editing: an ethical review.” The full report and a short summary are available for download here. I must say that my understanding of recent bioethical reflection in the UK leads me... // Read More »
September 29, 2016
This blog has discussed Mitochondrial Transfer, also referred to as Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques (MRTs), several times in the past (HERE and HERE to link a few.). The reason for further comment is that Dr. John Zhang, a New York-based fertility specialist admitted that he assisted in the successful fertilization and healthy delivery of a now 5 month old baby boy using the technique of Mitochondrial... // Read More »
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August 27, 2012 8:51 am
“My instinct is this will be available certainly in the next decade, and probably sooner,” said Benjamin E. Berkman, MPH, deputy director of the Bioethics Core at the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. But the medical community is not prepared to address the clinical challenges and ethical issues that probably will accompany the procedure, say some bioethicists and geneticists.
August 15, 2012 9:41 am
Of course the natural objection is that I’m discussing a problem which doesn’t exist. I wish this were so, but there’s a whole bioethics industry whose bread & butter is to trade in flimsy and specious reasoning, which might appeal to politicians who are will to purchase specious reasoning for purposes of their demagoguery. For example, As Prices for Prenatal Genome Sequencing Tests Fall, Researchers Worry About Consequences for Families in a Real-Life ‘Gattaca’.
August 8, 2012 3:12 pm
Parents-to-be may be able to have their unborn child screened for homosexuality within a matter of a few years, according to a visiting American expert in bioethics. Professor Robert Klitzman of Columbia University’s Centre for Bioethics has told TV ONE’s Close Up that genetic tests are now being developed to look for autism, alzheimers and various types of cancers. “We may find tests with homosexuality for instance,” he said.
August 2, 2012 10:01 am
On Thursday, Arizona’s new abortion law will take effect, outlawing the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a much earlier threshold than in any other law that has been upheld in court. Like-minded laws have been enacted in Nebraska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Louisiana, and a bill similarly limiting abortion in the District drew support Tuesday from a majority of the U.S. House, but not from enough members to pass.
July 13, 2012 1:19 pm
In theory, they’re just like any other loan company—except that they’re dealing with a population of borrowers who are often far more emotionally vulnerable than your average home buyer, and many of these lenders seem totally comfortable taking advantage of that fact. There are some that charge exorbitant interest rates, and others that are engaging in something far more unethical: Snyderman reports that some lenders are giving fertility doctors kickbacks or a stake in the company in exchange for sending customers their way. Ugh.
July 13, 2012 1:09 pm
Itil is concerned that doctors might not be ready to opt for surgery once the law is in place: “How can a law decide when a patient requires a certain treatment? This is against medical ethics, and the art of medicine in general. Turkey will set a very negative example with this law.”
July 12, 2012 12:22 pm
Even with success stories like the Clintons’, some experts are concerned that desperate couples could get into financial trouble – and that doctors who own a share of the loan companies might be crossing ethical boundaries.
June 28, 2012 8:13 pm
A new documentary exploring the ethical implications of sperm donation is creating a buzz among religious audiences. “Anonymous Father’s Day” delves into bioethics from the perspective of donor-conceived children who grow up not knowing their biological fathers. The film gives fodder to opponents of assisted reproductive technology, who argue the fertility “industry” has led to psychologically scarred children and the “commodification” of human life.
June 20, 2012 1:13 pm
It is an uncomfortable question that, in today’s world, is often asked by expectant mothers who had more than one male partner at the time they became pregnant. Who is the father? With more than half of births to women under 30 now out of wedlock, it is a question that may arise more often. Now blood tests are becoming available that can determine paternity as early as the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, without an invasive procedure that could cause a miscarriage.
April 26, 2012 9:45 am
A royal commission, several parliamentary committees, an act of Parliament and a federal agency have all debated reproductive technologies, touching on a quagmire of legal, social and ethical issues that include the exploitation of surrogates and the sale of sperm and eggs before the advent of cryopreservation. Prof. Françoise Baylis, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, advised the royal commission and later sat on the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada before she quit in frustration in 2010 over concerns about its management.
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