Hot Topics: Genetics

Blog Posts (151)

August 3, 2018

Public input into gene-editing decisions

Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria that lives in mice, which are considered a “reservoir” for the disease-causing agent.  Ticks bite the mice, pick up the bacteria, and then infect people when they bite them.  (Ticks are called the “vector” for the disease.) If mice were immune to the bacteria, their immune …

Continue reading "Public input into gene-editing decisions"

July 19, 2018

Britain’s experts on gene-edited babies

Some of the cable news shows ran segments on the report released this week by Britain’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics, “Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues.”  Full disclosure: I have not yet read the full report, only the short summaries (all of which are available for free download at the link here). …

Continue reading "Britain’s experts on gene-edited babies"

July 17, 2018

Forcing RNA to, at least, Mumble…

We are at a turning point in medicine where instead of supplementing patients with proteins or enzymes that their bodies fail to manufacture due to genetic abnormalities, we soon may be able to re-engineer the abnormal DNA, restoring the DNA’s ability to instruct the body to make those same proteins or enzymes. On our way …

Continue reading "Forcing RNA to, at least, Mumble…"

July 13, 2018

Raiding the CRISPR

A couple of gene-editing news items from this week’s science literature: First, Nature reports that a group in my “back yard,” at the University of California San Diego, has tested gene editing using the CRISPR approach in mice.  Recall that CRISPR is an acronym for a particular molecular mechanism, first discovered in bacteria, that is …

Continue reading "Raiding the CRISPR"

July 11, 2018

Secret Twin Experiments & Bioethics.net 15 seconds of fame

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

On the advice of a family friend, I went to see the new documentary, Three Identical Strangers.

July 5, 2018

Labs are growing human embryos for longer than ever before

That’s only a slight paraphrase of a news feature article this week in Nature.  The clearly-written article is devoid of scientific jargon, with helpful illustrations, open-access online, and readily accessible to the non-specialist.  Check it out. Key points include: Scientists who do not find it ethically unacceptable to create and destroy human embryos solely for …

Continue reading "Labs are growing human embryos for longer than ever before"

June 15, 2018

A safety concern with gene editing

Hat-tip to Dr. Joe Kelley for bring this to my attention… As readers of this blog will recall, there is keen interest in exploiting recent discoveries in genetic engineering to “edit” disease-causing gene mutations and develop treatments for various diseases.  Initially, such treatments would likely use a patient’s own cells—removed from the body, edited to change the cells’ genes in a potentially therapeutic way, then... // Read More »
May 15, 2018

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s DNA Treasure

Last month, investigators used big data analysis, public DNA genealogy websites and “Discarded DNA” to identify the Golden State Killer (WSJ subscription needed), an individual believed responsible for over 12 murders, greater than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 through 1986. While justice may be served if the legal case remains solid, there are some interesting bioethical issues that warrant discussion.... // Read More »
May 15, 2018

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s DNA Treasure

Last month, investigators used big data analysis, public DNA genealogy websites and “Discarded DNA” to identify the Golden State Killer (WSJ subscription needed), an individual believed responsible for over 12 murders, greater than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 through 1986. While justice may be served if the legal case remains solid, there are some interesting bioethical issues that warrant discussion.... // Read More »
May 14, 2018

Ethical Considerations in the Manufacture, Sale and Distribution of Genome Editing Technologies

by Jeremy Sugarman MD MPH,MA, Supriya Shivakumar PhD, Martha Rook PhD, Jeanne F. Loring PhD, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter PhD, Jochen Taupitz PhD, Jutta Reinhard-Rupp PhD, Steven Hildemann MD PhD

New genome editing technologies are playing an increased role in an array of advanced research and development efforts in the life sciences.…

View More Blog Entries

Published Articles (65)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 18 Issue 4 - Apr 2018

Beyond Consent: Building Trusting Relationships With Diverse Populations in Precision Medicine Research Stephanie A. Kraft, Mildred K. Cho, Katherine Gillespie, Meghan Halley, Nina Varsava, Kelly E. Ormond, Harold S. Luft, Benjamin S. Wilfond & Sandra Soo-Jin Lee

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 1 - Mar 2018

Understanding variations in secondary findings reporting practices across U.S. genome sequencing laboratories Sara L. Ackerman PhD, MPH & Barbara A. Koenig

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 4 - Dec 2017

“Will they be good enough parents?”: Ethical dilemmas, views, and decisions among assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers Robert Klitzman

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 4 - Dec 2017

How should we deal with misattributed paternity? A survey of lay public attitudes Georgia Lowe, Jonathan Pugh, Guy Kahane, Louise Corben, Sharon Lewis, Martin Delatycki & Julian Savulescu

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 7 - Jul 2017

Modernizing Research Regulations Is Not Enough: It's Time to Think Outside the Regulatory Box Suzanne M. Rivera, Kyle B. Brothers, R. Jean Cadigan, Heather L. Harrell, Mark A. Rothstein, Richard R. Sharp & Aaron J. Goldenberg

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 8 Issue 2 - Apr 2017

When bins blur: Patient perspectives on categories of results from clinical whole genome sequencing Leila Jamal, Jill O. Robinson, Kurt D. Christensen, Jennifer Blumenthal-Barby, Melody J. Slashinski, Denise Lautenbach Perry, Jason L. Vassy, Julia Wycliff, Robert C. Green & Amy L. McGuire

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 5 - May 2017

Genetic Fingerprints and National Security Beau P. Sperry, Megan Allyse & Richard R. Sharp

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genomics and Mental Health Treatment: Setting the Ethical Agenda Camillia Kong, Michael Dunn & Michael Parker

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 4 - Apr 2017

Psychiatric Genetics in a Risk Society Nicole Martinez-Martin

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 1 - Jan 2017

A Framework for Unrestricted Prenatal Whole-Genome Sequencing: Respecting and Enhancing the Autonomy of Prospective Parents Stephanie C. Chen & David T. Wasserman

View More Articles

News (920)

August 10, 2018 9:00 am

It started as a hobby. Now they're using DNA to help cops crack cold cases (CNN)

First was the arrest in April of a California man who police say is the notorious Golden State Killer. Then came the arrest of a suspect in the 1986 killing of a 12-year-old girl in Washington state. Soon authorities were charging a man for the 1992 sexual assault and killing of a 25-year-old schoolteacher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and another suspect for the 1988 rape and slaying of an 8-year-old girl in Indiana.
August 3, 2018 6:35 am

Ancestry, 23andMe and others say they will follow these rules when giving DNA data to businesses or police (The Washington Post)

Ancestry, 23andMe and other popular companies that offer genetic testing pledged on Tuesday to be upfront when they share users’ DNA data with researchers, hand it over to police or transfer it to other companies, a move aimed at addressing consumers’ mounting privacy concerns. Under the new guidelines, the companies said they would obtain consumers’ “separate express consent” before turning over their individual genetic information to businesses and other third parties, including insurers.

July 30, 2018 3:00 am

European court ruling raises hurdles for CRISPR crops (Science)

Hopes for an easier regulatory road for genetic engineering in European agriculture were dashed today by the Court of Justice of the European Union. In a closely watched decision, the court ruled that plants created with new gene-editing techniques that don’t involve transferring genes between organisms—such as CRISPR—must go through the same lengthy approval process as traditional transgenic plants.

July 19, 2018 12:29 pm

Arizona law would give frozen embryos to spouse who wants baby after divorce (CBS News)

A controversial new Arizona law that took effect July 1 would give Torres access to the embryos. The law requires courts to give embryos to the spouse who plans to use them to have a baby when a couple decides to have a divorce. Supporters of the law say it will protect a partner’s right to his or her embryos. Opponents say it could force people to become parents against their will.

July 18, 2018 5:42 am

Editing human embryos 'morally permissible' (BBC News)

Should we or shouldn’t we be allowed to modify human DNA in future children? An inquiry into the ethical issues surrounding genetically altering a human embryo has found there is “no absolute reason not to pursue it”. But appropriate measures must be put in place before it becomes UK law, said the report – which calls for further research both medically and socially. Inquiry chair, Prof Karen Yeung, said: “The implications for society are extensive, profound and long-term.”

July 6, 2018 6:00 am

Online gene test finds a dangerous mutation. It may well be wrong. (SF Gate)

There are no systematic studies of how often the direct-to-consumer results and third-party analyses are wrong. In one small study, Ambry Genetics — a lab certified to do medical testing — looked at 49 samples sent in by physicians whose patients had been told that they had disease-causing mutations by third-party interpreters. Ambry found that 40 percent were wrong. In addition, some genetic variations classified by second companies as threatening actually were benign.

June 19, 2018 6:00 am

Soccer Fans, Don’t Root for a Team Based on Genetics (LeapsMag)

23andMe is taking a lot of heat as one of the DNA aggregators whose databases may not be secure from prying third-party eyes. That is a huge issue, but the company is engaging in even more troubling behavior—using genetics to sponsor racism.

June 11, 2018 5:50 pm

I took a batch of DNA tests so you don't have to (NBC News)

DNA tests promise to help you tailor a diet, supplements and exercise for optimum weight, heart health and lifestyle. But can they really deliver?

June 5, 2018 9:00 am

Million-dollar Kavli prize recognizes scientist scooped on CRISPR (Nature)

CRISPR has hauled in yet another big science award, and this time the recognition includes a scientist whose contribution has sometimes been overlooked.

May 9, 2018 12:00 pm

Which Anti-Depressant Is Right for You? Your DNA Can Shed Some Light (Washington Post)

Genomics is coming to psychiatry, with some doctors using a gene test to figure out the most effective anti-depressant for a patient.

View More News Items