Blog Posts (86)
May 27, 2016
As described in my post of February 25, and at other times on this blog, efforts are proceeding to apply “mitochondrial replacement techniques” (MRTs) to prevent severe, maternally-inherited mitochondrial disease from being passed on to children of affected women. MRTs involve attempting to put the nucleus of an egg or embryo from an affected woman into a cell or embryo from an unaffected mom, so... // Read More »
May 20, 2016
It has been reported that last week, a group of scientists met in a closed-door session at Harvard Medical School to discuss concrete steps and industry involvement to achieve the goal of synthesizing—creating in the laboratory—an entire human genome, and putting it into a cell, within 10 years. Reportedly led by Harvard’s George Church, a leader and chief enthusiast of the technical prospects of genetic... // Read More »
May 6, 2016
The biggest news of the week has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election. The bigger scoop is that scientists have grown human embryos in the lab for 13 days after fertilization. The previous record was 9 days. The work was stopped after 13 days’ maturation because many societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old, the latest point... // Read More »
April 21, 2016
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 »
April 7, 2016
William Shakespeare reminded us that an object’s essence is not determined by the label we assign to it. No one has since proven Shakespeare wrong. Despite this fact, nowhere have labels been more strongly asserted than in the bioethical debate of abortion. Exactly what or who exists in the uterus of a pregnant human female? The list of labels is long and includes: “baby”, “the... // Read More »
March 22, 2016
Ever since I read John Holmlund’s blog entry (HERE) on mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRT) for inherited mitochondrial diseases, I have been thinking a lot about the issue of enhancement. Almost in passing, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stipulated that MRT would not be a meaningful example of human enhancement because of the relatively limited genetic information in mitochondria. Recall that mitochondria are the energy power... // Read More »
March 3, 2016
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 »
February 25, 2016
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 18, 2016
I must be candid. I am grateful that my two sons, who please me immensely, cannot be called products of an “industry.” That is, my wife and I never faced the pressure that some must feel, for a variety of reasons, to become ensnared in that tangled-web-we-have-woven called gestational surrogacy. A writer named Michelle Goldberg has written a thoughtful article for the online magazine Slate... // Read More »
February 4, 2016
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 »
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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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