stuff you should read

Are bioethicist Joseph Fletcher’s fifteen “criteria or indicators” of humanhood becoming reality? And are there no biomedical breakthroughs left for us to discover in this century? Biotech is getting surprisingly close to recreating science fiction in real life… 


5 Real-Life Technologies Where Biotech Meets Science Fiction 

Science fiction is always a step ahead of real-life science. It imagined space travel, wireless communication and virtual reality before they happened. In fact, sci-fi has coined some scientific terms that are now widely used such as robot, spacesuit, or astronaut. 

From genetic engineering to synthetic food and immortality, biotech is getting surprisingly close to recreating science fiction in real life. 


Joseph Fletcher’s Dark Dreams Becoming Our Reality 

Joseph Fletcher (1905–1991) was one the most influential philosophers and bioethicists of the twentieth century. His advocacy blazed the path for many of the radical social transitions we are experiencing today. He gained fame as the prime proponent of “situational ethics,” popularly known as social relativism. But his work in bioethics eroding the sanctity of human life and promoting a utilitarian hedonism was just as society-altering.

His 1975 essay “Indicators of Humanhood” was profoundly persuasive in this regard. Published in the Hastings Center Report, an influential bioethics journal, Fletcher argued that people should be divided between “truly human beings” and the “subpersonal”—those among us whom we should deem of little consequence because of their lesser capacities. Fletcher even proposed a loose formula with fifteen “criteria or indicators” by which an individual’s moral worth—or humanhood—could be judged.

Joseph Fletcher may be dead, but is his dark dreams are becoming our reality? 


The NIH is in Danger of Losing Its Edge in Creating Biomedical Innovations 

In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” the protagonist dies from an infection after scratching his leg on a thorn. That was in 1936, before the introduction of penicillin. It’s hard to imagine a world in which every cut had the potential to be fatal, but that’s the world our grandparents lived in. Thanks to decades of truly amazing biomedical research, we live in a much safer world today. What’s equally exciting is that yesterday’s triumphs may pale beside the promise of tomorrow’s breakthroughs — if pressures on research funding don’t threaten the future of biomedical research.

For generations, America has been the world leader in biomedical research innovation. Lately, though, it has been losing its preeminence in discovery to other countries.


4 Major Announcements: What Went Down at JPM 2018

To kick off the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Edico Genome and Genomics England announced a new partnership to strengthen the accuracy and consistency of NGS data analysis in Genomics England’s Rare Disease pilot. 

Thermo Fisher Scientific and Illumina announced a commercial agreement that enables Illumina to sell Ion Ampliseq technology to researchers who conduct scientific studies on Illumina’s NGS sequencing platforms.

This was announced shortly after Thermo Fisher Scientific announced that they’ve  expanded its Oncomine portfolio with new assays for liquid biopsy and immuno-oncology, in addition to the announcement of their new line of next-generation sequencing instruments; the Ion GeneStudio S5 Series.

Illumina launched their iSeq 100 Sequencing System. This new NGS system promises to deliver exceptional data accuracy, at a low capital cost, making Illumina technology available to virtually any lab.


A New Alzheimer’s Drug, Once Worth Billions, is Headed for the Trash

Axovant Sciences, 2017’s most talked-about biotech company, is abandoning the drug that made it famous after yet another clinical trial failure.

The company, valued at more than $2.8 billion in September, will no longer study intepirdine after finding the drug to be useless against dementia with Lewy bodies, a memory-destroying disease that can affect mood and balance. Last year, intepirdine failed in a 1,300-patient Alzheimer’s disease trial, sending Axovant’s share price down more than 75 percent.


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