Tag: genetically modified animals

Bioethics News

Jeff Kahn on WYPR Midday

 

Jeffrey Kahn, PhD, MPH,  Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, appears regularly on WYPR’s Midday show with Tom Hall to discuss pressing ethics issues related to current scientific and technological advances.

 

His next appearance will be Wednesday, April 5th at noon. (Listen live online) Prof. Kahn and Tom Hall will discuss the case of Henrietta Lacks, the poor black tobacco farmer who died of cancer in 1951, and whose cancer cells were taken for research without her or her family’s permission – Ms. Lacks is also the subject of a new film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, debuting on HBO Saturday, April 22nd at 8pm

 

Here is an archive of Prof. Kahn’s appearances on Midday with Tom Hall:

 


New Report Sets Guidelines for Genome Editing

February 15, 2017

Genome editing, that is the ability to make additions, deletions, and alterations to the genome of a human or animal, is not a new. Scientists have been experimenting with it in labs for a while to better understand the way some diseases and disabilities work. But now a new report released yesterday from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine sets international guidelines for genome editing. New editing tools like CRISPR have opened up the doors for more lab and clinical research projects. The scientists behind the report hope their guidelines will serve as a roadmap to help other scientists avoid the ethical concerns associated with gene editing.

 

Bioethics With Dr.

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

Ethical reflection on the latest biomedical experiments by Juan Carlos Izpisua and his group

Juan Carlos Izpisua biomedical experiments. They present serious ethical problems primarily because some of them use human embryonic stem cells

pdfOver the last few days, some of the biomedical experiments conducted by Juan Carlos Izpisua and his group — in which researchers from several Spanish universities take part — have been widely reported by various media.

Let us say at the outset that we see no need to highlight the biomedical importance of these experiments (some of which we would dare describe as spectacular), as this has already been abundantly emphasised by the media. Quite another matter is the possibility of being able to use what they have achieved in human medicine, which could take several years.

The bioethical aspects of these experiments have scarcely been addressed, however, and we believe they merit consideration.

Before we go any further, and in order to structure this report, the experiments by Izpisua to which we are referring should be divided into three groups. Concisely (although we will refer to this in more detail below) they are: a) to create quasi-human organs in animals, to be ultimately used for clinical transplants; b) to modify the CRISPR technique that offers so many biomedical possibilities, to make it more efficient, and c) to apply cell reprogramming “in vivo”, to try to rejuvenate a group of experimental animals.

  1. To create quasi-human organs in animals.

chimeraThese experiments were first reported in an article published in Nature in May 2015. They essentially consist in injecting human embryonic stem cells into mice so that they can generate quasi-human organs, since the human cells injected into the animal will produce organs with a genome that is very close to the human one.

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

Ethical reflection on the latest biomedical experiments by Juan Carlos Izpisua and his group

Juan Carlos Izpisua biomedical experiments. They present serious ethical problems primarily because some of them use human embryonic stem cells

pdfOver the last few days, some of the biomedical experiments conducted by Juan Carlos Izpisua and his group — in which researchers from several Spanish universities take part — have been widely reported by various media.

Let us say at the outset that we see no need to highlight the biomedical importance of these experiments (some of which we would dare describe as spectacular), as this has already been abundantly emphasised by the media. Quite another matter is the possibility of being able to use what they have achieved in human medicine, which could take several years.

The bioethical aspects of these experiments have scarcely been addressed, however, and we believe they merit consideration.

Before we go any further, and in order to structure this report, the experiments by Izpisua to which we are referring should be divided into three groups. Concisely (although we will refer to this in more detail below) they are: a) to create quasi-human organs in animals, to be ultimately used for clinical transplants; b) to modify the CRISPR technique that offers so many biomedical possibilities, to make it more efficient, and c) to apply cell reprogramming “in vivo”, to try to rejuvenate a group of experimental animals.

  1. To create quasi-human organs in animals.

chimeraThese experiments were first reported in an article published in Nature in May 2015. They essentially consist in injecting human embryonic stem cells into mice so that they can generate quasi-human organs, since the human cells injected into the animal will produce organs with a genome that is very close to the human one.

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

Research Ethics Roundup: New Clinical Trial Transparency Tool, Returning Genetic Data, Genetically Modified Animals in Research, and Placebos as Treatment

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup examines the new online transparency tool from AllTrials, returning data to participants in genetic research, concerns about overuse of genetically modified animals, and the potential for placebos as treatments for non-urgent pain.

The post Research Ethics Roundup: New Clinical Trial Transparency Tool, Returning Genetic Data, Genetically Modified Animals in Research, and Placebos as Treatment appeared first on Ampersand.

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

Questions in Bioethics: Genetically Modified Animals, and Now Humans

Tom welcomes Dr. Jeffrey Kahn to Studio A. Dr. Kahn is the director of the Berman Center of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. Folks in his field think about things like the ethical ramifications of research, how doctors interact with patients, public health policy, and global approaches to things like food distribution and allocation of medicine

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

CRISPR Embryos at Karolinska: Controversies Demand Oversight

Rumors have been circulating since 2014 about various research teams around the world applying the genetic engineering tool CRISPR-Cas9 in human embryos. Surprisingly, only two experiments have been officially reported in scientific journals—both of them in nonviable embryos incapable of being used for reproduction, and both out of Guangzhou, China.

CRISPR in viable human embryos

On September 22, NPR’s Rob Stein reported an exclusive look inside the Karolinska Institute in Sweden at ongoing but previously undisclosed work using CRISPR in viable human embryos. Stein had traveled to Stockholm to interview researcher Fredrik Lanner and his colleagues about their program of injecting CRISPR into viable human embryos to “knock out” genes potentially linked to early development. NPR quoted CGS executive director Marcy Darnovsky who cautioned:

It’s a step toward attempts to produce genetically modified human beings. This would be reason for grave concern. … If we’re going to be producing genetically modified babies, we are all too likely to find ourselves in a world where those babies are perceived to be biologically superior. And then we’re in a world of genetic haves and have-nots…

The next day, Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University, told Eric Niiler in Seeker that there is “good valid medical use” for basic scientific research using CRISPR in embryos, but followed that with a warning:

Still, Greely acknowledges that some scientists or the public might say that the Swedish experiment could be an ethical “slippery slope” toward a gene-edited human. “Even if you don’t intend to, it makes it easier for someone else to do it,” Greely said.

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

CRISPR-mania in China

The new CRISPR as a technology only really came into the public spotlight last year. But already dozens, if not hundreds, of Chinese research hubs are using the technique on a range of animals.

CRISPR research is being supported in China via grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Science and Technology as well as provincial governments.

In the past year alone, numerous articles have been published in leading journals documenting the use of CRISPR by Chinese scientists to create genetically enhanced goats, sheep, pigs, monkeys and dogs, among other mammals. In a September edition of Nature’s Scientific Reports, for example, geneticists Xiaolong Wang and Yulin Chen from Northwest A&F University published the results of study into enhancing goat muscle and hair growth. In early-stage goat embryos the researchers had successfully deleted two genes which suppress both hair and muscle growth. The result was 10 kids exhibiting both larger muscles and longer fur. So far,  no other abnormalities have appeared. 

And the Chinese genomics BGI recently announced that their institute will be selling ‘micropigs’ as pets. The institute originally created the micropigs as models for human disease, by applying a gene-editing technique to a small breed of pig known as Bama. 

“[CRISPR research] is a priority area for the Chinese Academy of Sciences,” Minhua Hu, a geneticist at the Guangzhou General Pharmaceutical Research Institute, told the Scientific American. A colleague, Liangxue Lai of the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, added that “China’s government has allocated a lot of financial support in genetically modified animals in both [the] agriculture field [and the] biomedicine field.”

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

Genome editing poses ethical problems that we cannot ignore

In the future, our DNA could be different by design. DNA by Seamartini Graphics/www.shutterstock.com

The ability to precisely and accurately change almost any part of any genome, even in complex species such as humans, may soon become a reality through genome editing. But with great power comes great responsibility – and few subjects elicit such heated debates about moral rights and wrongs.

Although genetic engineering techniques have been around for some time, genome editing can achieve this with lower error rates, more simply and cheaply than ever – although the technology is certainly not yet perfect.

Genome editing offers a greater degree of control and precision in how specific DNA sequences are changed. It could be used in basic science, for human health, or improvements to crops. There are a variety of techniques but clustered regularly inter-spaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR, is perhaps the foremost.

CRISPR has prompted recent calls for a genome editing moratorium from a group of concerned US academics. Because it is the easiest technique to set up and so could be quickly and widely adopted, the fear is that it may be put into use far too soon – outstripping our understanding of its safety implications and preventing any opportunity to think about how such powerful tools should be controlled.

The ethics of genetics, revisited

Ethical concerns over genetic modification are not new, particularly when it comes to humans. While we don’t think genome editing gives rise to any completely new ethical concerns, there is more to gene editing than just genetic modification.

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

Work still needed to reduce animals in research

Replace, refine, reduce. Those are the goals of a centre founded 10 years ago to improve the welfare of animals used in research. But more still needs to be done to embed these ideas, according to the head of the centre.

Lab_mouse_mg_3140

Wikimedia Commons

Vicky Robinson, chief executive at the London-based National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), says that when the centre was launched 10 years ago there was “some uncertainty” in the scientific community about it. The organization has since funded research that ranges from using facial expressions of animals to assess pain and improve welfare to growing ‘micro-cancers’ in a dish in order to reduce the use of animals used in drug development.

Last week, launching the NC3R’s strategy for the next decade, she said: “Ten years on I think the transformation has been huge. Getting a grant from the NC3Rs really does count these days.”

But she added that there were still “too many scientists who think that the 3Rs belong in the animal house” and do not apply to their research. And she admitted that there were still concerns in the scientific community to be overcome around whether changing laboratory conditions to improve animal welfare could also negatively impact research outcomes. The new NC3Rs strategy includes working to ensure that standardised measures of animal welfare can be used to improve both the welfare of animals and scientific results, that all scientists are committed to the ‘3Rs’ and that this is expanded to other countries.

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.