Blog Posts (86)
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 30, 2016
Technology and Ethics Tech Giants Team Up To Tackle The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, consisting of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and IBM (with Apple in talks to join), weighs in on the … Continue reading →
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 »
September 25, 2016
Just last week, I received a call from a pollster. It’s election season and I live in a hotly contested ‘swing state,’ so I wasn’t surprised. What surprised me were the questions I was asked, mostly about the Zika virus—its spread and possible prevention. One question especially caught my attention: Are you in favor of genetically modified (GM) mosquitos? Bioethics in a poll question! I... // Read More »
August 26, 2016
On August 3, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine posted online the slides and talks from its July 12 meeting to discuss public implications of the Human Gene-Editing Initiative. A total of four meetings plus a related workshop were held: an introductory discussion in December 2015, followed by three more substantial meetings plus the related workshop in February, April, and now July of... // Read More »
August 18, 2016
Wesley Smith, who, based on his writing, I consider a kindred soul in bioethics, has published an essay in First Things dated August 5, 2016, and entitled, “Brave New World Should be an Election Issue.” In it, he quickly runs down the revolutionary changes in the very nature of humanity that appear in the offing based on biotechnological developments since the publication of Aldous Huxley’s... // Read More »
August 11, 2016
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have been pioneers in editing genes with the so-called “CRISPR-Cas9” system to “drive” a genetic trait through an entire population of an organism. Recently, the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and UCSD released a report with recommendations about how to regulate the testing of this technology so it doesn’t get out of hand. Briefly, gene drive... // Read More »
August 5, 2016
Last week, JAMA published online a Viewpoint provocatively titled, “What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?” The overarching Big Idea to which the article refers is the “narrative positing that a combination of ever-deeper knowledge of subcellular biology, especially genetics, coupled with information technology will lead to transformative improvements in health care and human health.” The article highlights three technologies that are... // Read More »
July 28, 2016
1) In this week when Hillary Clinton has declared the Hyde Amendment in her gun-sight, and said that “religious objections to abortion must change,” while her party literally shouts the confident claim that abortion is an affirmative public good and a fundamental human right, a commentator flagged the Washington Post’s awarding, last October, of 3 “Pinnochios” to the claim that Planned Parenthood ‘provides’ mammograms—a canard... // Read More »
July 14, 2016
1) The new issue of Nature Biotechnology carries an erratic editorial complaining that “alarmist” responses to the recent announcement that a project to synthesize an entire human genome may be launched “missed the point.” The editors say that worries about “synthetic life and secret meetings” missed the point. The lesser goals of the project—more “nearfetched,” if you will—call for synthesizing long, sub-genomic stretches of DNA... // Read More »
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October 25, 2016 8:00 am
For a long time, Daniel Au Valencia got the message that she was wrong, wrong, wrong. She stood wrong. She talked wrong. She looked at people wrong. “There’s a lot of shame around autism,” she says. “There’s a lot of being told you look weird.”
October 25, 2016 8:00 am
Prior to the development of iPSCs, stem cells were derived primarily from eggs fertilized in clinics in vitro that were donated for research purposes. To some, such as President George W. Bush, this was tantamount to abortion. In 2001 he banned federal funding for research on newly created human embryonic stem cell lines. (President Barack Obama lifted that ban in 2009.)
October 18, 2016 8:00 am
Last year, Bob Nore, a Vietnam War veteran in Huntsville, Ala., was working on a family tree and wanted to trace his ancestors’ history and origins. So he sent a vial of saliva and $89 to a DNA registry for analysis.
October 13, 2016 8:00 am
One of Theranos Inc.’s biggest financial backers has sued the embattled startup and its founder for allegedly lying to attract its nearly $100 million investment, according to a fund document and people familiar with the matter.
October 7, 2016 8:00 am
By the time 8-year-old Ava Christianson got to the National Institutes of Health this summer, she had lost several grueling rounds to leukemia and was bracing for the next one.
October 4, 2016 8:00 am
A Swedish medical researcher has taken another step toward eventually being able to engineer a custom-made human being. The experiment, first reported on NPR Thursday involves editing the genes of a developing human embryo.
September 28, 2016 10:50 am
The world’s first baby to be born from a new procedure that combines the DNA of three people appears to be healthy, according to doctors in the US who oversaw the treatment.
August 17, 2016 8:00 am
Large genomic databases are indispensable for scientists looking for genetic variations associated with diseases. But they come with privacy risks for people who contribute their DNA. A 2013 study1 showed that hackers could use publicly available information on the Internet to identify people from their anonymized genomic data.
August 2, 2016 8:00 am
Investigators identify the bad lines of genetic code that may lead to the disease
July 29, 2016 8:13 am
Dolly the Sheep started her life in a test tube in 1996 and died just six years later. When she was only a year old, there was evidence that she might have been physically older. At five, she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. And at six, a CT scan revealed tumors growing in her lungs, likely the result of an incurable infectious disease. Rather than let Dolly suffer, the vets put her to rest.
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