Posted by & filed under Genetics: The Biological Context of Development, Legal Ethical Issues, Neuroscience, Uncategorized.

Description: This podcast looks at the ethical issues arising from a Chinese research study that involved manipulating the DNA of human embryos. As our research techniques in this area improve ethical issues such as this will become more and more prominent.

Source: CBC Radio: The Current – Study “Editing” Human DNA Divides Scientists

Date: May 8, 2015

editing human dna the current may 8 2015

Photo Credit: CBC Radio: The Current – Website: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent

Podcast Link: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/current_20150508_81750.mp3

Article Link: http://www.nature.com/news/chinese-scientists-genetically-modify-human-embryos-1.17378

Typically when we talk about the Nature side of the Nature/Nurture issue in Psychology we assume that the Nature side is fixed post conception and that it is the Nurture side where we have whatever opportunities as might be available for intervention. A Chinese study recently described an effort to change the human germ line by trying to influence the expression of a particular gene within a number of human embryos. There are a large number of ethical issues that arise from consideration of this sort of intervention. The podcast addresses questions like, should we be doing this sort of thing at all (working on techniques for producing GMO humans), if so should we have limits on what can be done, and should we consider differences between fixing “simple” single gene issues and perhaps “enhancing” embryos prior to implantation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the potential benefits of the sort of genetic manipulation described in the Chinese research article in question? What are the potential costs (undesirable consequences)? What is the “yuck factor”?
  2. What sorts of regulations (if any) might we consider for this type of research?
  3. Several scientific journals have stated that they would not publish such research. What are some of the arguments for and against that position?

References (Read Further):

Liang, P. et al. (2015) CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human cells Protein Cell http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5 .

Lanphier, E. et al. (2015) Don’t edit the human germ line, Nature 519, 410–411. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/519410a

Baltimore, D. et al. (2015) A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification Science 348, 36–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aab1028

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