Hot Topics: Genetics

Blog Posts (34)

March 1, 2015

Fools Rushing In?

Trevor Stammers is our guest blogger for today.  Dr. Stammers is the Programme Director for Bioethics and Medical Law at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham in London.  Prior to St. Mary’s, he practiced as a family physician for 27 years and was a senior tutor in General Practice at St George’s, University of London.  He is also the editor for the multidisciplinary journal The New Bioethics.  Thanks... // Read More »
March 1, 2015

Fools Rushing In?

Trevor Stammers is our guest blogger for today.  Dr. Stammers is the Programme Director for Bioethics and Medical Law at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham in London.  Prior to St. Mary’s, he practiced as a family physician for 27 years and was a senior tutor in General Practice at St George’s, University of London.  He is also the editor for the multidisciplinary journal The New Bioethics.  Thanks... // Read More »
February 27, 2015

Collating Some Resources about 3-Parent IVF

With the recent news that Great Britain will indeed forge ahead with the use of nuclear transfer techniques to create “3-parent babies,” in an effort to interdict maternally-inherited mitochondrial disease, and in light of Courtney Thiele’s February 9 post on this blog (with the associated discussion), I thought it might be useful to take a moment and pull together some links to past discussions on... // Read More »
January 31, 2015

Cinematic Cautionary Tales

As a Netflix aficionado, I have seen more than my fair share of movies that are centered around the dangers of misusing biotechnologies. To the undiscerning eye, they are nothing more than thrillers or action movies with great CGI, but a more in-depth look will reveal that these films act as cautionary tales. Tales that are often ignored. I could name dozens of movies that... // Read More »
January 28, 2015

Still Alice: A Portrait of Familial Alzheimer’s Disease

by Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D.

This past weekend I spent a cold, snowy day in the theater watching the movie Still Alice.…

November 21, 2014

Bioethics Exam

In keeping with the evaluation-obsessed spirit of the time, here is a little bioethics test. No multiple-choice fill-in-the-bubbles here, no simple true/false; but bioethics usually isn’t so simple, is it? So it’s OK if you don’t have a No. 2 pencil, you can still take today’s exam! _______________________ 1. The patient-physician relationship depends on trust, and close observation, and appreciating subtleties, and giving one’s full attention... // Read More »
October 3, 2014

Prenatal Genetic Testing, and Down Syndrome

Lots of people don’t understand prenatal genetic testing, including both patients and doctors. For instance, many people think that the BUN genetic ultrasound or the “Quad screen” or the prenatal AFP tests can tell whether or not a baby has a genetic anomaly (they can’t; they can only indicate whether a fetus has an increased risk for a genetic anomaly), or that the tests are... // Read More »
September 18, 2014

Genetic Testing For All: Is It Eugenics?

<p style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">In recent weeks, there’s been talk of three types of genetic testing transitioning from targeted populations to the general public: carrier screens for recessive diseases, tests for BRCA mutations, and non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to spot extra chromosomes in fetuses from DNA in the maternal bloodstream.</p> <p style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">Are these efforts the leading edge of a new eugenics movement? It might appear that way, but I think not.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">When I began providing genetic counseling 30 years ago at CareNet, a large ob/gyn practice in Schenectady, NY, few patients were candidates for testing: pregnant women of “advanced maternal age” (35+), someone with a family history of a single-gene disorder or whose ethnic background was associated with higher prevalence of a specific inherited disease. Their risks justified the cost and potential dangers of the tests.</span></p> <p style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><strong style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></span></p>
September 11, 2014

Who’s Afraid of GMO?

<p style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">The answer, it seems, is quite a number of people. The question that we really need to address is why. Are these concerns rational, are they science based, should they provide the basis for public policy? People have been using selective breeding and hybridization techniques for thousands of years to alter the genetic makeup of both plant and animal agricultural products. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ecT2CaL7NA">Neil Tyson Degrasse</a> </span><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">made the point very clearly and effectively that almost nothing we grow agriculturally has been unchanged from the plants and animals living naturally. They have all been altered by the intentional action of human beings. Selective breeding, of course, has significant differences from what is currently characterized by the term genetic modification which is done using the techniques of molecular biology to insert genetic material. But they do establish the principle that most people are happy to eat food products which have been genetically altered by people. That sweet red apple you had for lunch or the fattened cattle which produced your juicy hamburger do not exist in nature.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;">The techniques of genetic engineering which can be used to insert genetic material into the genome of a cell permitted the alteration of crops that resist pests requiring less use of pesticides. They allow selective herbicide resistance allowing the use of minimally toxic or nontoxic  herbicides as well as no till farming which diminishes erosion and reduces use of fossil fuels. They have also been able to use these techniques to add essential nutrients to address widespread dietary deficiencies. An example of this is the development of golden rice, the </span><a style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice">genetic modification of rice</a><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"> to produce vitamin A. These are good things.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong><span style="line-height: 19.0400009155273px;"> </span></p>
August 27, 2014

Update: How Ebola Kills

<p>Eman’s emails arrive hours ahead of the news here. He wrote on Sunday, August 17:</p> <p><em>“An Ebola quarantine site was attacked and looted. News is that most of the patients have escaped. This is going to put more fear into the population. All this because people are denying the virus.  More people might get exposed.  I’m so weak I can’t wake up this morning. Its 6:00 pm and I am still in bed listening to the news.  All this happened in a very populated area called West Point. Got pain all over my body. Keep me in your meditations.”</em></p> <p>Emmanuel is a medical student in <a href="http://blogs.plos.org/dnascience/2013/04/25/dna-day-and-world-malaria-day-the-sickle-cellmalaria-link-revisited/">Liberia</a> whom my husband and I have been supporting since he contacted me after reading my human genetics textbook in 2007. Until the fever hit him last weekend, he dedicated himself to “sensitization,” educating the public about how to stay safe. But now he’s too sick and weak to venture out.</p> <p>His email from Monday, August 18, said only <em>“Need help!”</em></p> <p style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px;">Ricki Lewis is the author of "<a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Forever-Fix-Therapy-Saved/dp/0312681909">The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It</a>," St. Martin's Press, March 2012.  To read more blogs from the author, please visit her site at <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="http://www.rickilewis.com/">http://www.rickilewis.com</a>.</p> <p style="border: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 10px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia, 'Bitstream Charter', serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 20.296875px;"><strong style="color: #34405b; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px;">The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: #000099;" href="http://www.amc.edu/Academic/bioethics/index.cfm">website</a>.</strong></p>

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Published Articles (41)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 2 - Feb 2015

Collectivizing Rescue Obligations in Bioethics Jeremy R. Garrett

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 11 - Nov 2014

Protecting Posted Genes: Social Networking and the Limits of GINA Sandra Soo-Jin Lee & Emily Borgelt

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 3 - Mar 2014

Addressing the Ethical Challenges in Genetic Testing and Sequencing of Children Ellen Wright Clayton, Laurence B. McCullough, Leslie G. Biesecker, Steven Joffe, Lainie Friedman Ross, Susan M. Wolf & For the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) Consortium Pediatrics Working Group

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 3 - Mar 2014

Ethics and Empiricism in the Formation of Professional Guidelines Mildred K. Cho

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 10 - Oct 2013

Gender Eugenics? The Ethics of PGD for Intersex Conditions Robert Sparrow

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 10 - Oct 2013

Critically Appraising Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis to Prevent Disorders of Sexual Development: An Opportunity Missed Laurence B. McCullough

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 5 - May 2013

The Right to Know Your Genetic Parents: From Open-Identity Gamete Donation to Routine Paternity Testing An Ravelingien & Guido Pennings

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 2 - Feb 2013

Do Researchers Have an Obligation to Actively Look for Genetic Incidental Findings? Catherine Gliwa & Benjamin E. Berkman

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 2 - Feb 2013

What To Do With the Could-Be-Knowns of Genomic Medicine Richard R. Sharp

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 12 Issue 10 - Oct 2012

Review of Marion Danis, Emily Largent, David Wendler, Sara Chandros Hull, Seema Shah, Joseph Millum, Benjamin Berkman, and Christine Grady, Research Ethics Consultation: A Casebook Emily E. Anderson

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News (798)

February 18, 2015 3:15 pm

U.S. approves first biotech apple that resists browning

U.S. regulators on Friday approved what would be the first commercialized biotech apple, rejecting efforts by the organic industry and other GMO critics to block the new fruit.

February 9, 2015 4:07 pm

UK Set to Legalize Babies With DNA From 3 Parents

After a parliamentary vote earlier this week, the United Kingdom is set to become the first country to legalize making a baby with DNA from three parents.

January 29, 2015 2:55 pm

Obama to Request Research Funding for Treatments Tailored to Patients’ DNA

President Obama will seek hundreds of millions of dollars for a new initiative to develop medical treatments tailored to genetic and other characteristics of individual patients, administration officials say.

January 29, 2015 2:54 pm

Genetic Testing and Tribal Identity

The genetic sequencing company 23andMe recently tapped into its vast bank of data to release a study on genetic origins, producing the biggest genetic profile of the United States ever conducted—big, but nowhere near complete.

January 26, 2015 6:52 pm

Testing for mortality: Why I measured my telomeres. Should you?

This piece discusses telomere testing as a way to predict age-related diseases. Hank Greely, with the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and director of Stanford’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, comments on the growing concern among federal regulators.

January 23, 2015 5:43 pm

Surprise! With $60 Million Genentech Deal, 23andMe Has A Business Plan

A deal being announced today with Genentech points the way for 23andMe, the personal genetics company backed by Facebook billionaire Yuri Milner and Google Ventures to become a sustainable business – even if the company’s discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stretch on for years.

January 23, 2015 5:42 pm

Most parents want their babies’ genome sequenced, study finds

By sequencing the billions of chemical letters in a cell’s DNA, which make up the human genome, scientists may be able to better estimate the risk of a person developing cancer, heart, biochemical and metabolic diseases.

January 16, 2015 1:02 pm

Who Owns A Human Genome?

When a human subject is involved with a scientific study, researchers must obtain informed consent, right? Well, if the study in question involves genomics research, the answer isn’t so clear.

January 9, 2015 8:29 pm

Genetic Testing Company 23andMe Finds New Revenue With Big Pharma

The past two years have been a rough and transformative time for the controversial DIY genetic testing company 23andMe. At the end of 2013, the Food and Drug Administration requested that the company shut down its main service, an analysis of a person’s genome gleaned from spit samples that anyone who purchased a kit could send in, noting that interpreting human genes—understanding what changes in DNA mean, and how they contribute or don’t contribute to disease—is still too much of a black box.

January 6, 2015 7:58 pm

Surprise! With $60 Million Genentech Deal, 23andMe Has A Business Plan

A deal being announced today with Genentech points the way for 23andMe, the personal genetics company backed by Facebook billionaire Yuri Milner and Google Ventures to become a sustainable business – even if the company’s discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stretch on for years.

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