Tag: bioethics

Bioethics News

He Edited a Human Embryo, With Startling Results

September 8, 2017

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ORTLAND, Ore. — Biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov knew he’d done something pretty big: He’d conducted the first experiment in the U.S. to edit a dysfunctional gene in a viable human embryo. That was sure to spark a debate about designer babies and draw ire from the anti-abortion groups that so vehemently oppose such research.

What Mitalipov didn’t expect, however, was the furious response from fellow researchers — who have aggressively picked apart not the ethics of his work, but…

… Read More (paywall)

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The human embryo mapped in three dimensions. Technique and bioethical approach

A team of researchers from the Institut Vision in Paris and the Jean-Pierre Aubert Research Centre, under the direction of Alain Chedotal, have managed to map the human embryo  in three dimensions (see HERE the published study), which, they believe, permit better understanding of the mechanisms of formation of embryonic organs in normal and pathological conditions. Until this technique was developed, 3D embryonic reconstructions were obtained from thousands of embryos and fetuses, in which microscopic sections were cut at different stages of development. However, this new technique enables the inside of the entire embryo to be seen during the first trimester of its life. To that end, the researchers labeled the cells that they wanted to study with fluorescent proteins, and then made the embryo transparent by immersing it in different solvents, which removed its membranes, but conserved its protein structure; the embryo was then scanned under fluorescence microscopy. Using this technique, they analyzed embryos and fetuses from 6 to 14 weeks of gestation, constructing a three-dimensional atlas of the human embryo that can be used for both teachings and possibly for experimental techniques. There is no need to highlight the great ethical difficulties with these techniques, as they destroy human embryos with no further consideration. Therefore, although the results obtained are experimentally positive, the method used ethically disqualifies the overall process.

Photo: A view of an embryonic lung with this technique by Inserm

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Young female-to-male transsexual wants to become a girl again after receiving hormonal treatment

A dysfunctional family, complicated adolescence, transsexual propaganda on the internet, medical misdiagnosis, prognosis and all type of facilities to change sex without a thorough examination and an evaluation of the effects of hormonal treatment risks.
This is the cocktail lived by Zahra Cooper, a young 21-year-old who became transsexual and who now wants to become a girl again, although the consequences of everything that she has done are very palpable and difficult to reverse. The case of this New Zealander is not unique, and what happened with Cooper shows that there are numerous circumstances that are not taken into account, and which mark the life of these young people forever. In many cases, the ideology (see video https://youtu.be/GLxwNzx21mk ) weighs more than the health of these people. Her case has been published in a detailed report in The New Zealand Herald and shows the suffering that she went through, including two suicide attempts, along with a road that she should never have taken.

See video testimony of Zahra Cooper

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Honors for Racist Scientists

September 7, 2017

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Historians like to say that everything has a history. Yet the natural sciences remain somewhat removed from academic debates over what to do with monuments tied to dark chapters in American history.

That’s changing, though.

In a twist to discussions about campus memorials linked to slavery and racism, the natural sciences are facing new questions about monuments tied to eugenics and to individuals who denied basic rights to those nonwhite people on whom they did research.

In one example, scientists and other academics lit up social media Wednesday in a response to an editorial in Nature called “Removing Statues of Historical Figures Risks Whitewashing History.” Some critics objected to the term “whitewashing” itself, saying that leaving memorials to eugenicists and other problematic figures unchallenged is the real whitewashing.

… Read More

Image: By ESO/M. Kornmesser (photo displayed on the magazine cover) – https://www.eso.org/public/images/ann16056a/ (photo displayed on the magazine cover), CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50998461

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Why Can’t More American Women Access Medications for Preterm Birth?

September 7, 2017

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In 2015, for the first time in eight years, the rate of preterm birth in the U.S. rose, despite increased understanding of preventative measures. By one estimate, preterm births cost us an estimated $26 billion per year.

Additionally, U.S. maternal death rates are the among the worst for economically similar countries, currently double that of Canada and Spain, and almost three times than for women in Japan. In Texas, they doubled in just over two years.

When the rates are examined more closely, they reveal an alarming narrative about differences in health outcomes that are systematic, avoidable and unjust. The increased burden of preterm birth on low-income, urban and black women in America is 48 percent higher that of white women in every state.

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Image: By Mattopaedia – Own work by uploader – modified version of Stethoscope-2.png wikimedia image, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6079126

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The Conversation US

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

In Survey, Docs Say Unneeded Medical Care Is Common

September 7, 2017

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A national survey of more than 2,000 doctors across multiple specialties finds that physicians believe overtreatment is common and primarily perpetuated by fear of malpractice, as well as patient demand and some profit motives.

A report on the findings, published today in PLOS ONE, highlights physicians’ perspectives on unnecessary health care practices and the potential causes and solutions.

“Unnecessary medical care is a leading driver of the higher health insurance premiums affecting every American,” says Martin Makary, professor of surgery and health policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper’s senior author.

… Read More

Image: via Flickr AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by weiss_paarz_photos

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

New State Network against surrogate motherhood in Spain

Alicia Miyares is a feminist philosopher and writer. For a couple of years now, she has been involved in the movement “No somos Vasijas” (We are not vessels), together with other philosophers such as Amelia Valcárcel and Victoria Camps, dedicating a large part of her time fighting against surrogacy. Use a Surrogate mother to have a child is currently banned in Spain, although its possible regulation has entered fully into the political debate. Miyares spares no criticism for what she understands as no more than a euphemism under which hides a business that is degrading for women, by reducing them to mere reproductive machines. In the last week of April, Miyares and 50 women’s organizations and LGTBI groups presented the Red Estatal contra el Alquiler de Vientres (State Network against Surrogacy) at a press conference in Madrid. The surrogation site makes his position clear: “We are not incubators, nor vessels, nor uteruses nor wombs for rent: we are women, human lives with which some people are trying to set up a new business that will benefit the strongest and suppress the weakest” (See HERE the site)

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

3D artificial ovary constructed with excellent results. New hope for women infertility

A team of researchers from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University in the United States has reported that it has managed to construct the structure of an artificial ovary 3D  (see HERE) a hydrogel that, once transplanted in an animal, can interact with its tissues and create a functioning ovary. This artificial scaffold was implanted in sterilized female mice, with cell division to ovulation taking place in two months. After mating, these females became pregnant and gave birth to healthy mice that survived, after being nursed by their mothers. This is undoubtedly a great technological breakthrough with visions of being used in humans to resolve infertility issues (see HERE).

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Viable human embryos CRISPR genetically edited in the USA. Technique and ethical controversies

Numerous complications could go unnoticed in this study

On 26th July, the journal MIT Technology Review  announced that the CRISPR technique (see HERE) had been applied in human embryos for the first time in the United States, in a study led by embryologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University.

Gene editing has previously been performed on human embryos on at least three occasions in China. Accordingly, two articles from 2015 (see HERE) and 2016, respectively, reported the application of CRISPR on non-viable human embryos (see HERE) . Subsequently, in 2017, another paper reported the application of CRISPR on human embryos, this time viable (See HERE ). In all cases, the results revealed that there are still serious safety and efficacy obstacles before the method can even be considered for use in medical applications. Consequently, the editing was completely successful in only a very small number of embryos, and moreover, there were undesirable effects like mosaicism (when only some of the embryonic cells incorporate the desired change) and off-target mutations.

The findings of the new study were published on 2nd August in Nature. Most relevant, though, is not the fact that viable human embryos have been edited for the first time in the US, but that the problems of mosaicism and off-target mutations found in previous studies appear to have been largely overcome.

The technique

The experiment consisted of correcting a mutation in the MYBPC3 gene, which causes a heart disease. The mutation was found in the DNA of the sperm used to fertilize the eggs.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Lifetime Achievement in Bioethics

Center for Practical Bioethics Founding Executive Myra Christopher Honored by American Society for Bioethics and Humanities 

Forty years ago, a young Johnson County, Kansas, homemaker stood by her mother’s grave and promised to spend the rest of her life working to ensure that those living with serious illness could have their wishes honored and values respected. That same year, her college philosophy professor introduced her to a new “movement” called bioethics that advocated for patients to actively engage in their own care. Following graduation, from 1984 through 2011, she served as founding executive director of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City.

On October 20, 2017, Myra Christopher’s four-decade journey will culminate in her acceptance of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the 1,800-member American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) at the national association’s conference hosted in Kansas City.

Early in Christopher’s career at the Center for Practical Bioethics, she and her founding board faced challenges like court reporters, judges and lawyers appearing in hospital rooms to intervene on end-of-life decisions. Hospice care was, for the most part, still rare.

Unlike the half dozen academia-based bioethics centers that existed at the time, the vision for the Center was to create an independent, free-standing nonprofit that converts bioethics theory into services and resources to serve real patients, families, providers and policymakers facing real-life healthcare issues and crises in real time.

In recognition of Christopher’s role in achieving this vision, ASBH professionals from clinical and academic settings along with those from medical humanities throughout the country will present her with its most prestigious honor in afternoon ceremonies at the Sheraton Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.