June 4, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

transhumanism

2 min read

Heritable human genetic modification has been the topic of the year so far, but another trend is edgy and interesting: non-heritable, but cutting edge forms of human modification that in some ways fall into the class of biohacking. Biohackers are into do-it-yourself (DIY) forms of biology including self-modification. Sure, people have been modifying themselves for thousands of years. Tattoos, hair changes, cosmetic surgery, tooth fillings and crowns, pacemakers and other medical implants. However, changing up one’s body has gone high-tech and DIY to include …Read More

4 min read

Hank Greely over at The Center for Law and Biosciences at Stanford Law School was one of the participants in the recent Napa meeting on approaches to human germline genetic modification. Hank was also one of the authors on the resulting position paper in Science with David Baltimore as first author (here). Now Hank, pictured below, has written an intriguing blog post that kind of gives a behind the scenes look at what has gone on in this area in the last few months and …Read More

3 min read

Over at Practical Ethics they are calling for an almost Spock-like, emotion-free, and logical approach to the topic of heritable human genetic modification. Sounds good in principle, right? Well, unfortunately it fails in execution in their essay. The authors of “Editing the germline – a time for reason, not emotion” seem to include Chris Gyngell, Tom Douglas, and Julian Savulescu. It is notable that this Practical Ethics piece itself has an unmistakable bias toward allowing human germline modification to proceed unfettered by what they view as …Read More

2 min read

Discussion of concerns over heritable human genetic modification has spiked in 2015. This dialogue is a good thing, but is it in a sense too late? Are genetically modified (GM) people a foregone conclusion? Rumors are swirling that upwards of four papers reporting production of GM human embryos are in various stages of review at high-profile journals, sparking a sense of urgency for some kind of steps to deal with this new reality. Could these papers report germline correction of the CTFR mutation in cystic fibrosis …Read More

2 min read

In a new perspectives piece in Science, Nobel Laureate David Baltimore and co-authors including Jennifer Doudna and George Church, chart a potential path forward for human germline engineering. See also accompanying Bioethics piece by Gretchen Vogel as well, “Embryo engineering alarm”. In the piece, entitled “A prudent path forward for genomic engineering and germline gene modification” calls for further discussion and assessment of key potential benefits and risks to moving forward with this technology. The illustration included here is from the piece. The piece …Read More

6 min read

I recently interviewed leading genomics scientist George Church on the ways that trends in genomics are changing our world and the possibility of heritable human genetic modification. His answers suggest that genomics and gene editing are poised to radically change our world and to literally change us. Here’s the George Church interview you’ve all been waiting for. Do you think the public is already shifting to be more accepting of genomic information as simply another useful part of their overall health profile rather than as …Read More