Blog Posts (45)
August 13, 2015
One risky aspect of the practice of gene editing—exploding because of the powerful CRISPR/Cas9 technique—is the prospect for widespread and permanent genetic alteration of whole species from a process called “gene drive.” In classical genetics, initially defined by the 19th-century Moravian cleric Gregor Mendel, frequency of the inheritance of genes is controlled by more or less simple arithmetic. Higher organisms (animals and man) have two... // Read More »
July 31, 2015
As discussed in an exchange earlier this year on this blog, one of the concerns about editing the human germline is that the risks to the next generation and future generations are not predictable, and the experiments to address those safety concerns cannot be done ethically. Go here, and to the embedded links, to review. Recently, Paige Cunningham and Michael Sleasman of the Center for... // Read More »
May 14, 2015
Joe Gibes (May 9) and Steve Phillips (May 13) took up the challenge I posted last week: to address whether human germline gene editing, even in a hypothetically-narrow example case, is morally unacceptable in some intrinsic sense, and therefore something that ought never be attempted or, for that matter, pursued in the laboratory. If you have not read their posts, please do so. To come... // Read More »
May 8, 2015
In a comment last week, Mark McQuain pointed out the article “Engineering the Perfect Baby” in the MIT Technology Review. Freely accessible online, it describes, in non-technical terms, several of the routes that genetic editing may follow. Perhaps the most explosive: adult skin cell transformed into an induced pleuripotent stem cell that then is used to give rise to germ cells that are then genetically... // Read More »
May 6, 2015
I appreciate Courtney and Jon expressing their thoughts on the issue of human germline modification and the references to C. S. Lewis’s book, The Abolition of Man. My thoughts on this are more extensive than I can put in a blog post. I expressed those thoughts several years ago in a paper presentation at the CBHD summer conference. If you are interested in my extended... // Read More »
April 30, 2015
The recently-public discussion of gene editing has been going on for over a month now. I have been meaning to try to catch up with some of it. Tuesday’s post by Courtney Thiele got there first. This post will attempt to amplify a bit on what Courtney wrote. As Courtney pointed out, the technology involves making selective genetic changes of interest, including, but clearly not... // Read More »
April 16, 2015
A couple of writings by Gregory Kaebnick, the editor of the Hastings Center Report, have my attention these days, and I hope to deal with them in my next few posts. For the moment, I intend to seize on one point he makes in “Engineered Microbes in Industry and Science,” his chapter in a book he co-edited with Thomas Murray, 2013’s Synthetic Biology and Morality. ... // Read More »
April 13, 2015
Note: The Bioethics Program blog is moving to its new home on April 1, 2015. Be sure to change your bookmarks to http://bioethics.uniongraduatecollege.edu/blog/ by Courtney Jarboe, Bioethics Program Student In Minnesota, residual dried blood (RDB) samples collected for newborn screening had been stored, retained, and used for research without parental consent. It had been presumed that the Minnesota Department of […]
March 21, 2015
The predominant purpose of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is to select those embryos that are considered healthy or normal. This inevitably means that those that have a genetic abnormality are discarded. Foundational to how one responds to PGD will be their understanding of the personhood of the human embryo. Often, the ethical debate is approached from the assumption that human life at this stage of... // Read More »
March 12, 2015
A common argument by ethicists concerned about the implications of bleeding-edge biotechnologies is an appeal to what is called the “precautionary principle.” This appeal is particularly prominent on the European continent. It attempts to raise concerns about the metaphysical, essential nature of a new technology, as opposed to the more pragmatist (and consequentialist) approach taken in Britain and the U.S. I suppose that split should... // Read More »
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August 26, 2015 2:03 pm
Researches have shown that individuals deficient in vitamin D may be susceptible to multiple sclerosis.
August 11, 2015 1:49 pm
Mother Nature has always been life’s master architect, working off genetic blueprints that are fine-tuned from one generation to the next.
August 7, 2015 12:54 pm
Everyone at the Napa meeting had access to a gene-editing technique called Crispr-Cas9.
June 29, 2015 4:03 pm
The US House of Representatives is wading into the debate over whether human embryos should be modified to introduce heritable changes. Its fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would prohibit the agency from spending money to evaluate research or clinical applications for such products.
June 25, 2015 1:51 pm
The genome of a famous 8,500-year-old North American skeleton, known as Kennewick Man, shows that he is closely related to Native American tribes that have for decades been seeking to bury his bones. The finding, reported today in Nature1, seems likely to rekindle a legal dispute between the tribes and the researchers who want to keep studying the skeleton. Yet it comes at a time when many scientists — including those studying Kennewick Man — are trying to move past such controversies by inviting Native Americans to take part in their research.
June 24, 2015 1:50 pm
The skull in the eroded riverbank belonged to a man with a narrow, projecting face. The archeologist who excavated the bones along the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., thought he was looking at the remains of a white man, probably a pioneer. Then further analysis showed the skeleton to be thousands of years old. Confusion reigned. People asked: What was a white man doing in the Pacific Northwest back in the Stone Age?
June 4, 2015 12:36 pm
Genetic tests for breast cancer risk often look for DNA flaws that haven’t been reliably linked to the disease, a new report found, casting doubt on diagnostics that examine dozens of genes to calculate a patient’s susceptibility.
May 27, 2015 3:20 pm
A group of international researchers is making the case that genetic tests that look for multiple hereditary genes suspected of being linked to breast cancer should not be offered until they are proven to be valid and useful in clinical practice.
May 20, 2015 12:32 pm
The leading U.S. scientific organization, responding to concerns expressed by scientists and ethicists, has launched an ambitious initiative to recommend guidelines for new genetic technology that has the potential to create “designer babies.”
May 19, 2015 3:20 pm
The debate over human “gene editing” has moved onto the national stage with a prestigious institute announcing it will hold an international summit this fall to create voluntary standards to guide the use of the controversial technology, first conceived by UC Berkeley molecular biologist Jennifer Doudna.
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