Tag: genetic engineering

Bioethics News

Transhumanists, Biohackers, Grinders: Who Are They And Can They Live Forever?

February 24, 2017

(Australia Broadcasting Co) – Can transhumanists, biohackers and grinders live forever? The answer is maybe soon — at least according to them. Ok. So what’s a transhumanist? Like some scientists, they believe that ageing is a disease, and they are not afraid of taking human evolution into their own hands by harnessing genetic engineering, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Sydney-based IT innovation manager and self-described transhumanist Peter Xing says Australians aged in their 20s and 30s could now end up living long enough to live forever.

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

Churchill on science

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Winston Churchill was once voted the “greatest Briton of all time” in a BBC poll, edging out Isambard Kingdom Brunel (who?), Lady Diana, Shakespeare and John Lennon. Now, in addition to his gifts as a statesman and politician, orator and historian (and artist), we have been reminded that he helped to popularise science as well.

As reported in Nature, an historian has discovered an 11-page manuscript which Churchill penned in 1939 but never published, speculating about life on other planets. It turns out that the great man was deeply interested in modern science and followed developments keenly. Gazing around at the gathering storm, he wrote pessimistically:

“I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilization here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.”

But despite the reminder that Churchill was a fan of science, it’s also good to remember that he believed that there were moral limits to science. In one of his most famous speeches, he foresaw dark days for the world if Germany were to win the War:

If we can stand up to [Hitler], all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world … will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let

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 Public Should Have a Say in Allowing Modification of Our Germline Genetic Code

February 17, 2017

(Scientific American) – The report suggests limitations on genetic engineering to the heritable “germline” code of embryos, or even earlier upstream in the process, sperm and ovum, which convey information passed on to subsequent generations. However, the report appears to exclude the public from participation and concludes that “clinical trials using heritable germline genome editing should be permitted.” They should not—not without public discussion and a more conscious evaluation of how this impacts social standing, stigma and identity, ethics that scientists often tend to cite pro forma and then swiftly scuttle.

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

The National Academy of Sciences Expands its Approval for Gene Editing

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

This week the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report giving their support for altering heritable genes when previously the NAS only supported altering uninheritable genes. Although it gave very special conditions in which altering human eggs, sperm, and embryos would be acceptable, giving their seal of approval to any alteration of the human germline is a revolutionary move for the current and future status of genetic engineering for a few reasons:

  1. Expanding Clinical Research

Genetic engineering is already practiced for non-heritable genes. Genes that are known to cause chronic and debilitating diseases are the subject of clinical trials all across the world. However, with the advancement of affordable gene editing technology like CRISPR, some bioethicists, physicians, and scientists have changed their stance on what was once seen as an unethical use of genetic engineering—altering genes that could be passed down to offspring. Now the NAS endorses extending the benefits of gene editing to preventing, curing, and treating chronic, deadly, and heritable diseases, when there is no alternative intervention. Changing their ethical stance on gene editing will expand clinical research and change how research funds are allocated. It will give laboratories new avenues in which to pursue cures for diseases that were once thought incurable. Inevitably, there will be also be an increase in lively debate among bioethicists about what the NAS’s new report means for the relationship between science, ethics, and patient care.

  1. Research Arms-Race

The release of this report, for better or for worse, puts the United States on the same playing field as other countries who have already begun to use gene editing tools to alter the germline, particularly in embryos.

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

Mini-Brains Created That Grow Blood Vessels

February 6, 2017

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – Scientists at Brown University report that they have created 3D neural cell cultures of mini-brains that grow blood vessels. The networks of capillaries within the small balls of nervous system cells could enable new kinds of large-scale lab investigations into diseases, such as stroke or concussion, where the interaction between the brain and its circulatory system is paramount, said Diane Hoffman-Kim, Ph.D., senior author of the study (“A Three-Dimensional Neural Spheroid Model for Capillary-Like Network Formation”) that appears in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

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 FDA Is Cracking Down On Rogue Genetic Engineers

David Ishee’s plan was simple, if not exactly free of complication. From the shed that functions as his laboratory in rural Mississippi, he hoped to use genetic engineering to rid dogs of the types of terrible disorders caused by decades of high-end breeding. Ishee is a biohacker, one among a growing number of do-it-yourself scientists that the federal government is having an increasingly difficult time figuring out what to do with

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

Mediterranean anaemia can be treated using gene therapy

Every year, around 300,000 children are born worldwide with β-thalassaemia, a type of hereditary anaemia that, that it presents asymptomatically in most cases, can become fatal. With around 250 million people affected, β-thalassaemia is estimated to be the most common hereditary disease at global level. This β-thalassaemia, moreover, is also known as “Mediterranean anaemia”, since it is most common in the Mediterranean basin.

β-Thalassaemia treatment.  Now, researchers from Yale University in New Haven (United States) have discovered a new β-thalassaemia treatment using genetic engineering technique to cure it; the method uses “pieces” of synthetic DNA that are then administered intravenously, and can correct the mutations that cause beta β-thalassaemia.(See HERE).

 

La entrada Mediterranean anaemia can be treated using gene therapy aparece primero en Observatorio de Bioética, UCV.

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

Can thalassaemia or Mediterranean anaemia be treated using gene therapy?

Thalassaemia is estimated to be the most common hereditary disease at global level

Every year, around 300,000 children are born worldwide with thalassaemia, a type of hereditary anaemia that, while it presents symptomatically in most cases, can become fatal. With around 250 million people affected, thalassaemia is estimated to be the most common hereditary disease at global level. This thalassaemia, moreover, is also known as “Meditalasmeniaterranean anaemia”, since it is most common in the Mediterranean basin. Thalassaemia treatment. Now, researchers from Yale University in New Haven (United States) have discovered a new thalassaemia treatment using genetic engineering technique to cure it; the method uses “pieces” of synthetic DNA that are then administered intravenously, and can correct the mutations that cause beta thalassaemia.(See HERE).

La entrada Can thalassaemia or Mediterranean anaemia be treated using gene therapy? aparece primero en Observatorio de Bioética, UCV.

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 Genetic Engineering Technique Could Help Design, Study Biological Systems

January 23, 2017

(PhysOrg) – A new technique will help biologists tinker with genes, whether the goal is to turn cells into tiny factories churning out medicines, modify crops to grow with limited water or study the effects of a gene on human health. The technique, published Jan. 20 in Nature Communications, allows scientists to precisely regulate how much protein is produced from a particular gene. The process is simple yet innovative and, so far, works in everything from bacteria to plants to human cells.

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

How to Watch the Biggest Science Story of 2017

Less than three weeks into the new year, gene editing is already set to be one of the biggest stories of 2017.

CRISPR, the latest gene-editing tool, allows scientists to make changes to DNA faster, cheaper, and easier than ever before. There has been an explosion in the number of researchers using this technique over the past two years, and the coming year is sure to see more.

Media coverage of gene editing is also likely to be extensive. And if past experience is a guide, it will include lots of hype and ample confusion. In an effort to provide clarity, here are three key points to watch out for.

1) Germline gene editing and “3-person IVF” are not the same

The first 3-person in vitro fertilization (IVF) (aka “mitochondrial replacement”) birth was reported in September, where a baby with DNA from three people was delivered in Mexico by a New York-based fertility doctor seeking to avoid US regulation. Since then, there has been a tendency in the media to conflate the technique with gene editing.

On New Year’s Day, for example, NPR published a piece on 3-person IVF with the headline “Unexpected Risks Found in Editing Genes to Prevent Inherited Disorders.” After recognizing the error, NPR changed the headline to “Unexpected Risks Found in Replacing DNA to Prevent Inherited Disorders.”

While both germline gene editing and 3-person IVF are technically forms of human germline modification, or the genetic modification of human reproductive cells or embryos, they are completely different procedures.

Gene editing removes, inserts, and/or replaces nuclear DNA sequences in a living organism.

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.