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A Moratorium on Heritable Human Genome Editing: Illusory or Real?

May 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In March, 2019, Nature published a commentary penned by Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Paul Berg, and signed by 13 other notables. The name of the commentary is “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing.” This document requires analysis.

First, some definitions are needed. A moratorium is defined as a “suspension of activity,” or “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” Heritable means “capable of being passed from one generation to the next.” Additionally, clinical can refer to a “scientifically detached” attitude or “the observation and treatment of patients directly.” Each of ...read more

Transgenic Monkeys: Coming to a Lab Near You?

April 30, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The initial draft sequence of the chimpanzee genome was published in September 2005 – in comparison with the human genome. A few months later, geneticist James M. Sikela wrote in PLOS Genetics, “the genes and genetic changes that are responsible for making the human brain what it is and for allowing it to do what it uniquely does, have long been among the most prized jewels of our genome.” In that paper, Sikela considered how one could locate the changes in the genome that account for “human-specific cognitive abilities.” How could one prove that a ...read more

First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.: A Bright Red Line Is Crossed

July 28, 2017 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

“Sooner than we expected”: A friend – a scientist steeped in the bioethics realm – wrote to me of her surprise at the announcement of the first embryonic humans edited in the United States. Steve Connor, writing in the MIT Technology Review, reported the work on 26 July 2017.  Doubtless, the publication of the work in a scientific journal will follow.

The article, “First human embryos edited in U.S.” by Steve Connor, describes the process thusly: “A person familiar with the research says ‘many tens’ of human IVF embryos were created for the experiment using the ...read more

What Is a SHEEF, and Why Should We Care?

April 28, 2017 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Human embryo research has long been guided by what is known as the “14-day rule.” That is, various nations have allowed research on embryos up to 14 days post fertilization. The 14-day rule was put in place ostensibly in order to avoid causing pain for the developing embryo. The primitive streak — the first visible evidence of gastrulation and the formation of differentiated tissues in the embryo — appears at about day 15 after fertilization. (See video at the bottom of this post for more information.)

When the 14-day rule was put in place, laboratories were ...read more

It Has Arrived: Gene Editing Recommendations Published

February 28, 2017 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The committee appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, including editing the genes of the human embryo, has published a draft report (see the title page screen shot above). We at The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture are studying the document’s 261 pages, and have a few caveats to share with our readers. Germline gene editing was given cautious approval by the committee:

Heritable germline genome editing trials must be approached with caution, but caution does not mean they must be prohibited. (p. 102)

and

If the technical challenges are ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part IV)

November 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part IV of our report. View part I, part II, or part III.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers.

Here is a brief look at some of the writings and organizational ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part III)

October 29, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part III of our report. View part I, part II, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers.

Here is a brief look at some of the writings and organizational ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part II)

September 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part II of our report. View part I, part III, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers.

Here is a brief look at some of the writings and organizational ...read more

Taking stock: Where are we now?

January 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A.

Taking stock of where one is at the beginning of a new project or a new year is a good idea. Where we are in the entire realm of bioethics is beyond the scope of one blog post, but what follows are some landmarks discernible in January 2016…

Physician-Assisted Suicide

On Sunday, 24 January, John Jay Hooker, Tennessee lawyer, politician, and activist, died. Mr. Hooker had most recently championed “death with dignity” — physician-assisted suicide — in a proposed bill and in the courts. By the time of his death, neither the legislature nor the courts had provided ...read more

Futurist: We’ll someday accept computers as human — CNN Tech

March 13, 2012 • Posted in Emerging Technologies

By Brandon Griggs

12 March 2012

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/tech/innovation/ray-kurzweil-sxsw/index.html