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About Medical Gene Transfer


Sometimes called "gene therapy," medical gene transfer involves adding or modifying genes in a person's cells (other than those found in his or her sperm or eggs). The "new" genes are intended to function in ways that would alleviate a medical condition. They would not be passed on to any future generations.


Arguments Pro & Con

Gene transfer may eventually become an effective treatment for some important medical conditions. Clinical trials have been underway since 1990, but so far have been mostly unsuccessful, involved several conflict-of-interest scandals, and produced adverse results including deaths.

Gene transfer has also been proposed for "enhancement" purposes. This application could raise troubling social and ethical questions.



First Data from Anti-Aging Gene Therapyby Kerry GrensThe ScientistApril 25th, 2016Biotech company BioViva reports that an experimental treatment elongated its CEO Elizabeth Parrish’s telomeres.
Researchers push for personalized tumour vaccinesby Heidi LedfordNature NewsApril 22nd, 2016Enthusiasm comes amid concerns the therapy may prove too complex to manufacture and that a rapid shift toward the personalized approach is neglecting decades of broader application research.
Eric Lander talks CRISPR and the infamous Nobel ‘rule of three’by Joel AchenbachThe Washington PostApril 21st, 2016At the Aspen Institute, Lander urged scientific modesty with new gene editing tools: “We are terrible predictors of the consequences of the changes we make.”
We Still Haven’t Found a Fountain of Youth in Our DNAby Brian AlexanderMIT Technology ReviewApril 21st, 2016The Cypher Genomics project has been attempting to identify genetic variants that contribute to longevity, but so far there's no smoking gun.
Scientists unveil the ‘most clever CRISPR gadget’ so farby Sharon BegleySTATApril 20th, 2016A new "base editing" method attempts to switch out individual letters of DNA (C to T; G to A), but it's usefulness and precision is unclear.
CRISPR: Pursuit of profit poisons collaborationby Jacob S. SherkowNature April 13th, 2016Overzealous efforts to commercialize technology can damage science.
One Thing that Could Stop the Rise of Gene Editing: Insurance Companiesby Jason KoeblerMotherboard [VICE]April 12th, 2016If insurance companies refuse to cover potential new treatments involving gene editing, precision medicine might be limited to those who can afford the expense.
HIV overcomes CRISPR gene-editing attackby Ewen CallawayNatureApril 7th, 2016Virus can quickly develop mutations that resist attack by DNA-shearing enzymes. But is a CRISPR therapy suited for HIV, since most infections can be managed with antiretroviral drugs?
10th Anniversary Baby Markets Congressby Elliot HosmanApril 7th, 2016Legal scholars, social scientists, advocates, and filmmakers grapple with assisted reproduction.
Op-ed: Minding our makeupby Anna Foster & Parmida JafariThe Varsity [University of Toronto]April 4th, 2016Students have an obligation to understand the pros and cons of CRISPR. Its implications will directly affect our generation.
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