January 19, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

GM human

9 min read

Human germline CRISPR raises major bioethical considerations, but what about technical issues? Setting aside the many ethical issue about the general idea of human modification itself, could this really work? Yes in theory it could, but there are some very tough technological challenges that could and likely would cause failures or unacceptable outcomes at many steps along the way. These failures or unacceptable outcomes could easily involve real, live people who could be harmed or die. It’s very different than simple in vitro research so …Read More

2 min read

It’s a shame that National Geographic (NatGeo) has become part of a corporate empire that is not always consistent, to put it nicely, with data-based reality. Can NatGeo maintain its credibility and impact, when it is owned by a climate change denier (quoted for example as dissing folks as “extreme greenies”) who also has other very non-scientific priorities? There’s been an increasing amount of discussion of the technology that could produce GM humans. This dialogue includes the new Hinxton Statement (my take on that here) and …Read More

4 min read

Last week was a big one for the life sciences in that we saw the milestone of the first ever published paper reporting human embryo genetic modification (see here and here). It was one of those situations where we knew it was coming, but it was still a jolt. Not surprisingly this event sparked intense discussion and even some arguments. Below are 4 areas of contention at this moment and some additional thoughts on them. I value diverse views so please weight in with comments. A big deal …Read More

2 min read

The paper that came out Wednesday from a research group in China reporting the first genetic modification of human embryos has sparked a lot of discussion. Some concerns about this paper have surfaced. 2-day review? The paper (HT to John Borghi) was in review only from March 30-April 1 — so at most 48 hours. Really? That certainly raises a red flag of inadequate or absent peer review. That kind of “review” in the past with high-profile papers has been associated with a high risk of errors …Read More

3 min read

Rumors have been flying for months that researchers in China and possibly elsewhere were shopping papers around at high-profile journals that reported gene editing and genetic modification of human embryos. Update: apparently this paper (HT to @JohnBorghi) was only reviewed for 2 days (see image at bottom of post), raising major concerns about the depth of peer review. The rumors were right. Today, one of the Chinese teams of researchers published their paper on genetically modified (GM) human embryos in the journal Protein & Cell. …Read More

3 min read

Should we be using the term ‘genetically modified human’ in discussions of heritable use of CRISPR in people? During the still ongoing discussions of genetic modification in the human germline and potentially in actual human beings in the future, an interesting, but difficult question has emerged: What words or names would be most appropriate for the community to use to refer to potential future human beings that have gene edits? I have up until now referred to such hypothetical people as “genetically modified humans” or …Read More