Science Gene-editing debate

Debi

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Top biologists debate ban on gene-editing

Delegates at a crucial scientific summit this week are expected to debate a ban on the use of the controversial technique of gene-editing. Hundreds of the world’s leading biologists will gather in Washington to discuss the procedure, in which genes are removed from or added to human embryos.

Some researchers say gene-editing of humans could have unpredictable effects on future generations and is ethically unacceptable. They also warn that the technology could be used to create lineages of “enhanced” humans and want all work in the area halted until its implications are fully assessed.

As a result they are expected to call for a moratorium on future research at the summit, which is to be attended mostly by researchers from the UK, US and China, where gene-editing is most widely practised. But other scientists say a moratorium would be harmful. Gene-editing has the potential to rid the planet of some fatal illnesses, they argue. Academics in favour of continuing the current research programme point to the work of Chinese scientists, who earlier this year reported they had used a gene-editing procedure called Crispr to modify an aberrant gene that causes beta thalassaemia, an inherited life-threatening blood disorder. This was done in IVF embryos obtained from fertility clinics. The embryos were not implanted into women once the modifications were made, however.

Other scientists say versions of genes that predispose humans to Alzheimer’s disease or make them susceptible to HIV and other infections could be removed from embryos and so free future generations from these conditions. The technology also offers ways to improve stem cell research, boost the effectiveness of IVF techniques and reduce human miscarriage rates. For good measure, techniques like Crispr will allow researchers to rewrite the genomes of plants and animals and transform agricultural science.

“There is a great deal to be gained through the use of gene-editing, but obviously we have be careful how we proceed,” said one conference organisers, Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, of the Francis Crick Institute, in London. “The point of this meeting is to determine just how quickly we should move.”
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Where does one draw the line with this between helping humanity cure diseases and outright mad scientists playing God?
 
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The Doctor

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They could no more put a ban on gene editing than they could put a ban on personal computing. The technology is here, the information is available, and it is too easy to set up facilities now. CRISPr, et al are here. The more they try to ban it, the more people will apply the techniques and advance the technology faster than they can keep up with it.
 
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China 'clone factory' scientist eyes human replication

OK...so now it will just be cloning the humans....

Beijing (AFP) - The Chinese scientist behind the world's biggest cloning factory has technology advanced enough to replicate humans, he told AFP, and is only holding off for fear of the public reaction.


Boyalife Group and its partners are building the giant plant in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, where it is due to go into production within the next seven months and aims for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020.

But cattle are only the beginning of chief executive Xu Xiaochun's ambitions.

In the factory pipeline are also thoroughbred racehorses, as well as pet and police dogs, specialised in searching and sniffing.

Boyalife is already working with its South Korean partner Sooam and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to improve primate cloning capacity to create better test animals for disease research.

And it is a short biological step from monkeys to humans -- potentially raising a host of moral and ethical controversies.

"The technology is already there," Xu said. "If this is allowed, I don't think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology."

The firm does not currently engage in human cloning activities, Xu said, adding that it has to be "self-restrained" because of possible adverse reaction.

But social values can change, he pointed out, citing changing views of homosexuality and suggesting that in time humans could have more choices about their own reproduction.
 
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Bob Bain

I believe this is also called Designer Genetics.
You determine which portions of your genetics are transferred over to your as yet unborn child.
You can say this is taking us on the road toward a genetically modified, superior race of humans.
 
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