Bioethics @ TIU

DIY CRISPR Kits – Gene Editing for the Rest of Us

Posted February 20th, 2018 by Mark McQuain

One might think with the amazing advance of technology and easy access to nearly infinite data via the Internet that we, as a society, would see a reduction in false claims of benefit for novel medical procedures and untested medications. Sadly, it seems to be just the opposite. I seem to be spending gradually more time with my patients reviewing the results of their internet… // Read More »

“Nervy” SHEEFs, pain, and moral status

Posted December 14th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

In May of this year, my brief essays (literally, “attempts”) on synthetic human entities with embryo-like features, or SHEEFs for short, sought to ask what sort of human cellular constructs might or might not enjoy full human moral status; to wit, the right to life.  Some experimenters with SHEEFs have suggested that, since they may bypass the early (14 days of life) markers that normal,… // Read More »

Stem Cell Clinics & the FDA

Posted November 6th, 2017 by Neil Skjoldal

When any business over-promises and under-delivers, it is well on its way to failure.   Does this principle also hold true in the world of stem-cells?  In the last few months the promise of stem cell treatment has met the reality of government oversight. Does the government have the responsibility to rein in the larger-than-life claims of stem cell treatment clinics? In a letter dated August 24, 2017… // Read More »

Human gene editing marches on

Posted October 5th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Nature has recently carried two new reports of human gene editing.  In one, embryos donated from an IVF clinic had a gene critical to very early development altered, to study what happens when you do that, and try to understand early human development more than we now do.  In the other, scientists studied editing of an abnormal recessive gene, specifically the one causing a type… // Read More »

Is Obfuscation Ever Helpful in Science or Ethics?

Posted October 3rd, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Obfuscation and science would seem to be polar opposites. The scientific method hinges upon correctly identifying what one starts with, making a single known alteration in that starting point, and then accurately determining what one ends up with. Scientific knowledge results from this process. Accidental obfuscation in that three-step process necessarily limits the knowledge that could potentially be gleaned from the method. Peer review normally… // Read More »

Bioethical Jets and Sharks

Posted June 6th, 2017 by Mark McQuain

Recently, Professor Craig Klugman called on the President to set up his Presidential Bioethics Commission. He provides a nice history of Presidential Bioethics Commissions dating back to President Ford. The link to that article is HERE. Other than the usual implication that the President may not be intellectually up to the challenge, I agree with Professor Klugman that there are many pressing bioethical issues that… // 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 »

The moral problem of manufacturing children

Posted May 3rd, 2017 by Steve Phillips

Mark McQuain’s post yesterday about the moral concerns raised by some of the new things such as in vitro gametogenesis in conjunction with human induced pluripotent stem cells being developed in the field of artificial reproductive technology made me think of something that Leon Kass had written in the early days of in vitro fertilization. In the early years when in vitro fertilization was being… // Read More »

Do Extended Pluripotent Stem Cells Raise Ethical Issues?

Posted April 20th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

On April 6, the journal Cell published work (subscription or online article purchase required) from the Salk Institute in San Diego, in which scientists have created a new “reprogrammed” stem cell. These cells are called “extended pluripotent stem cells” or “EPS” cells.  They are different from embryonic stem (ES) cells, which are removed from intact embryos that arise from fertilization—typically requiring specific creation and destruction… // Read More »

Reining in the SHEEFs

Posted April 13th, 2017 by Jon Holmlund

Consider the human embryo… Ordinarily, it arises from the union of a sperm and egg to form a zygote, which is totipotent, that is, able to develop into a full individual.  In our time, fertilization can happen artificially, as with artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, or naturally through the process that is accessible even to educated fleas.  But the zygote develops into a multicellular… // Read More »