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Friday, January 10, 2020

The Complicated Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Brit McCandless Farmer
Originally posted 8 Dec 19

Here is an excerpt:

A 2017 survey at the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked 1,600 members of the general public about their attitudes toward gene editing. The results showed 65 percent of respondents think gene editing is acceptable for therapeutic purposes. But when it comes to whether scientists should use technology for genetic enhancement, only 26 percent agreed.

Going forward, Church thinks genetic engineering needs government oversight. He is also concerned about reversibility—he does not want to create anything in his lab that cannot be reversed if it creates unintended consequences.

"A lot of the technology we develop, we try to make them reversible, containable," Church said. "So the risks are that some people get excited, so excited that they ignore well-articulated risks."

Back in his Harvard lab, Church's colleagues showed Pelley their work on "mini brains," tiny dots with millions of cells each. The cells, which come from a patient, can be grown into many types of organ tissue in a matter of days, making it possible for drugs to be tested on that patient's unique genome. Church aims to use genetic engineering to reverse aging and grow human organs for transplant.

Pelley said he was struck by the speed with which medical advancements are coming.

The info is here.