•  Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Robert Truog, director of the HMS Center for Bioethics, talks to the Gazette about the recent breakthrough in embryological genetic engineering and its potential ramifications.

    Harvard’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee chair Robert Truog talks about recent gene editing of human embryos

    HMS bioethicist  talks with the  about the recent  by Oregon Health & Science University that scientists there had edited the genes of human embryos to remove the cause of a deadly disease.

    Truog is the director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics and chair of the Harvard University’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee, which provides oversight of all issues related to the derivation and research use of embryos, human embryonic stem cell lines, and their derivatives at Harvard University.

    You can read the full interview below:

    Seeing promise, and limits, in embryo edit

    HMS bioethicist Truog: ‘We’re looking at those rare situations where the genes really are life-threatening’

    By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

    The  by Oregon Health & Science University that scientists there had edited the genes of human embryos to remove the cause of a deadly disease has raised the prospect of a powerful new tool for physicians — as well as fears of a Pandora’s Box that could lead to “designer babies” and humans engineered for desirable traits such as strength or intelligence.

     is the Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesiology, and Pediatrics, and the director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics. In a Gazette Q&A he shared his thoughts on the debate the breakthrough set off.

    GAZETTE: Researchers said they cured a relatively common and potentially deadly genetic disease, . Why is this not uniformly good news? What’s the big fear?

    TRUOG: Many people believe that there’s something sacred about the human genome and messing with it feels like playing God. In their view, we shouldn’t be interfering with the natural order of things. These are serious concerns and they definitely need to be addressed. But the idea that we could choose not to do this, I think, is impossible. If we were to decide not to pursue human genome editing in the United States, it would still take place everywhere else in the world.

    We have an opportunity here for a leadership role — to show how, with good oversight, we can do research in controversial areas in ways that are careful, well-considered, and cautious. The captured this extremely well. They did not recommend a prohibition on human genome editing, but they did stipulate a number of considerations that needed to go into any proposals about doing this kind of work.

    GAZETTE: What were the most important of those considerations, to your mind?

    TRUOG: One is that it concern only severe and life-threatening diseases, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which the Oregon researchers were looking at. We’re not looking at “enhancements” here, we’re not looking at how to make normal people better, we’re looking at those rare situations where the genes really are life-threatening. If you have one of these genes, you’re likely going to die. And the work right now is focusing on that small set of conditions where that’s true.

    Another one of the conditions that the National Academy of Sciences placed is that there be no alternatives. And for most couples who are considering having a child and where they carry one of these life-threatening genes, we have , or PGD, which is a really good alternative. Since that’s a well-developed technology with a good safety record, that would be something that would be considered first.

    It would only be for a really small number of couples who wanted to have a genetically-related child who were incapable of producing disease-free embryos that this kind of technology would make any sense. This isn’t about “designer babies.” This is about offering a very small number of couples their only chance to have a baby that is genetically connected to them that doesn’t have a lethal condition.

    GAZETTE: Is this analogous to the ethical concerns raised with  back when that infertility treatment first arose? Is this the beginning of a societal discussion that we need to have?

    TRUOG: Yes, I think that’s actually a very good analogy. There were many concerns raised around IVF and test-tube babies when that was developed, and I think we had a good societal discussion about it. While issues certainly remain, I think that has become a fairly accepted method for couples who can’t otherwise have a child to be able to have a genetically-related offspring.

    GAZETTE: Are you troubled at all by the fact that, should a couple have a genetically engineered child, that change would then be passed on generation after generation?

    TRUOG: It’s hard to imagine an objection to the fact that a non-diseased gene would be passed to the next generation. I think the concerns would be more about off-target changes in the person that may not even be recognized that could then be passed on to future generations. I think that this is a concern and I know that a lot of the research will focus very much on the rates of off-target effects and how to control them and how to assure that they’re within acceptable limits.

    That being said, there’s — in nature — all sorts of alterations to the genome made from one generation to the next that we have no control over, we can’t predict. The fact that, in this case, we would be creating these alterations gives us a certain responsibility for monitoring them and being careful, but it’s not that unexpected changes in the genome don’t occur quite regularly.

    GAZETTE: Do you have any particular concerns or were you troubled at all by this research?

    TRUOG: I’m really pleased to see this proceeding in a very controlled, thoughtful way. I think my concerns would be twofold. One, that rogue scientists in another country would begin to develop this in ways that we would agree are not socially acceptable. For example, moving quickly into enhancement-type technologies. That’s another reason why we in the United States would be foolish to put our heads in the sand. We need to take a leadership role here and be a model for the rest of the world.

    Number two is what happened with a lot of the stem cell research, which is where irresponsible clinicians hang out a shingle and make ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims about diseases that they can treat and, in a sense, lure vulnerable patients and perhaps couples into getting therapy that could potentially be quite dangerous.

    Originally published in the 

    See also: , , , , , 
     

    Comments are closed

    Sorry, but you cannot leave a comment for this post.

     

    Latest Posts

    Latest Video

     
     

    LATEST POSTS

    What To Expect When Going To A Local Therapist

    Much of the population still looks down on therapy and psychologists. The primary reason for this is that therapy is vastly misunderstood by the general…

    Calm Body and Calm Mind: 4 Stress-Relief Strategies You Can Try

    Stress comes in different ways. First, stress can be in the form of acute stress. Acute stress is the kind of stress that you acquire,…

    Programming the Subconscious to Fight Diabetes

    Diabetes is a life-threatening illness that causes strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and blindness. Every year, 1.5 million Americans learn they have the illness. For…

    Vision of the Future in AR and Mixed Reality

    SOURCE Hello everyone who is reading our blog In this post I would like to share some of my thoughts and observations on how different…

    Keeping out of Trouble: 3 Scenarios Where Health Insurance Can Drop You

    Your health insurance is incredibly important, which is why the idea of being dropped by your insurance company is so concerning. Your health insurance provider…

    Health Benefits Associated With Drinking Water

      Out all the things that we eat and drink, water stands out as the most important one. When you drink water the body is…

    Artificial Intelligence Diagnoses Heart Murmurs Better Than Expert Cardiologists

    SOURCE Eko’s heart murmur detection algorithm outperformed four out of five cardiologists for the detection of heart murmurs in a recent clinical study. The algorithm…

    www.chemtest.com.ua

    www.chemtest.com.ua

    www.steroid-pharm.com