Bioethics @ TIU

Is Your Polygenic Risk Score a Good Thing?

Posted November 21st, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Back in October, Jon Holmlund wrote a blog entry regarding the popular company 23andMe and their collection of your health-related information along with your genetic material. I missed the significance of that relationship at the time. It took a recent article in Technology Review by my favorite technology writer Antonio Regalado to raise my ethical antennae. In his article, he explains the nexus of big… // Read More »

More about gene therapy and human gene editing

Posted November 16th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

To my post of last week, add the case of a 44 year-old man who has received gene therapy for an inherited metabolic disease called Hunter’s syndrome. This is another example of a form of gene editing as true therapy.  That is, an existing individual is given a construct intended to edit his genes to introduce a gene that makes an enzyme that is lacking… // Read More »

There’s gene therapy and there’s gene therapy

Posted November 9th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

I’ve seen a number of different things described in the general press as “gene therapy.” But they are indeed different.  It’s important to be specific. For one, there’s the situation where a set of mature human cells are obtained from the person to be treated and genetically altered outside the body to make them into a potentially useful treatment, then re-administered (by vein) to the… // Read More »

CRISPR and Identity

Posted August 15th, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Dr. Joel Reynolds, a postdoctoral fellow at The Hastings Center recently wrote a very poignant essay in Time magazine arguing that our increasing ability to edit our own genetic code risks eventually eliminating the very genetic code that results in people like his younger brother Jason, who was born with muscle-eye-brain disease, resulting in muscular dystrophy, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, severe nearsightedness and intellectual disability. In… // Read More »

The goal of human embryonic gene editing is enhancement

Posted August 2nd, 2017 by Steve Phillips

As Jon Holmlund reported in his post last week, research on the editing of genes in human embryos is now being conducted in the United States. The door to doing this research was opened by the consensus report on Human Genome Editing published by the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year. That report encouraged the pursuit of research on gene editing in human embryos… // Read More »

All we like SHEEFs, Part 2

Posted May 11th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Carrying on with last week’s musings… In thinking further, I think my attempt was confused by conflating the moral status of a SHEEF—a synthetic human entity with embryo-like features, something more than a clump of cells of human origin, but less than a human being—with reasons why I might want to hold that nobody should ever make certain sorts of SHEEFs. Again, SHEEFs are human,… // Read More »

All we like SHEEFs (?)

Posted May 4th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

So, how should we address the moral status of synthetic human entities with embryo-like features (“SHEEFs”)? First, we should consider that these are human, as opposed to non-human, if they arise entirely from cells of human origin.  Human/non-human hybrid creatures are just that, and partially human, biologically.  But are any of these human beings, as in, in California the crime of murder is described as… // Read More »

Six Million Dollar BCI Man

Posted April 4th, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Elon Musk is a very busy billionaire technology entrepreneur. In addition to his previous projects Tesla Motors and SpaceX, he has found time to start a new venture called Neuralink with the goal to connect human brains to computers. Beginning with an initial goal to treat intractable brain disorders such as epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease, he would like to eventually move on to “cosmetic brain… // Read More »

Heritable human gene editing and the public

Posted March 2nd, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

The recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine includes a chapter dedicated to public engagement.  Scientists leading gene editing efforts have actively sought broader public engagement, and point out that they desire this input, including from people who disagree with them about it.  They may push to win any arguments, but for the most part they don’t seem to be hiding…. // Read More »

The Gift of Finitude

Posted March 1st, 2017 by Chris Ralston

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finitude. About limits. Incompleteness. Even failure. Like the friend of a friend who is dying and has just been admitted to hospice, whose young teenaged daughter is facing the prospect of a life without her mother. Like the colleague who is grieving the loss of both a spouse and a parent within a month of each other. Like… // Read More »