Wherever you work in life sciences, be it in healthcare of pharmaceuticals, data is one word that is on everyone’s lips.
It all comes down to what decision is being made based upon a person’s genetics.
Helen C. O’Neill has explored how the global reaction to the birth of genome-edited twins in 2018 echoed the condemnation surrounding the first successful use of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) in 1978. Now regarded as a huge clinical success which has benefitted an estimated 16 million parents, at the time the development not only sparked moral outrage but led to political and legislative constraints.
George Church of Harvard University has been under heavy scrutiny after news broke out of a new “DNA Dating App” he has been involved in developing, during a recent interview with 60 minutes. The news has led to a significant backlash from some quarters, including from some within the genomics community, that the app is unethical and represents a form of eugenics.
Arianne Shahvisi is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. We managed to have a chat with Arianne ahead of her speaking at the Festival in Genomics, to get her take on the ‘coloniality’ of health and how the much-hyped advent of Whole Genome Sequencing might play a role in exasperating social injustices.
Arianne Shahvisi is a Senior Lecturer in Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. We managed to have a chat with Arianne ahead of her speaking at the Festival of Genomics, to get her take on the ‘coloniality’ of health and how the much-hyped advent of Whole Genome Sequencing might play a role in exasperating social injustices.
In late 2018, the world was shocked by the news of the birth of the first CRISPR gene edited twin babies. Chinese biophysicist He Jiankui carried out an experiment to create babies with a natural resistance to HIV by editing the CCR5 gene, known to play a role in the immune response.
One year on from the birth of world’s first CRISPR-edited babies in China, Jennifer Doudna, writes in Science what this and the ensuing controversy has meant for the field and society’s perception of the technology, as well as to outline what should be done next.
eGenesis has announced that it is now testing pig organs on primates to see if they safe for human use. If successful, this practice could solve the current shortage of human organs for transplantation. The company has declared that the pig organs are the most highly engineered ever created by surgeons.
Russian biologist Denis Rebrikov has announced his intentions to produce further gene-edited babies, ignoring the scientific consensus that this should not be done until an ethical framework is constructed to regulate the science involved. Rebrikov’s plans could occur before the end of the year if he receives approval in time.
He Jiankui, the Chinese scientist who created the first gene-edited twin children last year, could have unknowingly shortened their lives by more than 1.9 years. A study into the DNA and death records of 400,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank found the genetic mutations to gene CCR5 were “of quite strong effect.”
Questions around legality, protecting privacy and ensuring quality of data in DNA sequencing all need answering, a symposium recently held at the University of Minnesota has announced. LawSeq, a $2 million project looking to solve the issue of privacy and legality in sequencing, is exploring how to ensure the legal world catches up with current science.
The scientists of seven nations have called for a halt to gene-editing experiments seeking to alter heritable traits in human babies.
The first results of the BabySeq Project, a study to determine whether deep dives into infant DNA could uncover more diseases, and whether making this procedure routine after childbirth would be worth it, have been published.
The World Health Organization is establishing an expert panel to set guidelines and standards on the ethical and safety issues of gene editing, the body has announced. This follows the recent revelation that a scientist in China claimed he had edited the genes of twin babies to make them HIV resistant.