Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel’s Support

“In a report laden with caveats and notes of caution, the group endorsed the alteration of human eggs, sperm and embryos — but only to prevent babies from being born with genes known to cause serious diseases and disability, only when no “reasonable alternative” exists, and only when a plan is in place to track the effects of the procedure through multiple generations.

“Human genetic engineering for any reason has long been seen as an ethical minefield. Many scientists fear that the techniques used to prevent genetic diseases might also be used to enhance intelligence or create humans physically suited to particular tasks, like soldiers.”

TED Talk: Paul Knoepfler: The ethical dilemma of designer babies

 

“Creating genetically modified people is no longer a science fiction fantasy; it’s a likely future scenario. Biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain “upgrades” to human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of auto-immune diseases. In this thought-provoking talk, Knoepfler readies us for the coming designer baby revolution and its very personal, and unforeseeable, consequences.”

Building a Better Human With Science? The Public Says, No Thanks

We will increasingly have to deal with questions and issues raised by our increasingly sophisticated abilities to alter genes and enhance humans through the use of biotechnologies. As our scientific abilities increase so too do the questions around the ethical use of such technologies. This article discusses public opinions around the abstract uses of these technologies.

What should the limits of the uses of these technologies be? What criteria should we use to determine these limits?

“Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about using science to enhance the human species. Instead, many find it rather creepy.

“A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows a profound distrust of scientists, a suspicion about claims of progress and a real discomfort with the idea of meddling with human abilities. The survey also opens a window into the public’s views on what it means to be a human being and what values are important.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/upshot/building-a-better-human-with-science-the-public-says-no-thanks.html

The Quest to Resurrect Extinct Species

“A father-son duo of biologists has set the stage for so-called de-extinction. But should we be doing this at all?”

“In the past, scientists played their cards close to the vest as they developed, then commercialized, powerful new technologies. Often, they were sure that what was best for the science was best for society. And time after time, their secrecy and paternalism fed fears that sparked a public backlash — over technologies as diverse as test-tube babies, cloned animals like Dolly the sheep and genetically modified organisms. “The reason we’re in this situation with [the backlash against] genetically modified organisms is because we didn’t talk about it clearly enough, early enough,” Church says.”

http://discovermagazine.com/2015/march/14-jurassic-arke

Tweaking Genes to Save Species

Should humans intentionally try to kill of a species? What if this tactic resulted in the complete extinction of these mosquitos? What if this extinction resulted in saving human lives?

“BIOTECHNOLOGISTS have engineered the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus to pass a lethal gene to its offspring. Another team of researchers has devised a way to spread sterility through the mosquito population, using a technique called gene drive to wipe out the offending insects.

“If regulators approve this genetic tinkering, these insects could become a powerful weapon against the spread of mosquito-borne diseases to humans. But bugs like these, and the techniques used to create them, might have another role to play: helping to protect the earth’s biodiversity.”

Another article on the same topic.

https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/03/zika-gene-drive-gene-editing/

The incredible tale of irresponsible chocolate milk research at the University of Maryland

“Academic press offices are known to overhype their own research. But the University of Maryland recently took this to appalling new heights — trumpeting an incredibly shoddy study on chocolate milk and concussions that happened to benefit a corporate partner.

“It’s a cautionary tale of just how badly science can go awry as universities increasingly partner with corporations to conduct research.”

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/16/10777050/university-of-maryland-chocolate-milk?mc_cid=84d899c964&mc_eid=34e2887073

 

Ethicists approve ‘3 parent’ embryos to stop diseases, but congressional ban remains

“But panel members said that they took the philosophical issues seriously, noting that someone with genetic material from two different maternal bloodlines would potentially have to wrestle with questions about identity, kinship and ancestry.

“They also countenanced the possibility that people would want to use this new technique to create babies that are enhanced in some way intellectually or physically. They said that is not a major concern at the moment because the feasibility of such enhancements remains speculative.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/02/03/to-prevent-disease-ethicists-approve-creation-of-embryos-with-three-genetic-parents/?wpisrc=nl_draw2

Another article about the application of the technique.

Designing babies or saving lives in Mexico?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37505751?utm_source=Premium+TOK+newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=7cdac1f063-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_11_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f031581d64-7cdac1f063-98485421&mc_cid=7cdac1f063&mc_eid=34e2887073