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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.



Stem cell agency to begin review of human genetic changes by David JensenCapitol WeeklyFebruary 5th, 2016California’s stem cell agency has embarked on what is likely to be an exhaustive review of genetic alteration of human embryos with likely recommendations for changes in the $3 billion research effort.
The billion-dollar CRISPR patent battle: A case of big money shaping scienceby Michael HiltzikLos Angeles TimesFebruary 5th, 2016"The real question is whether the future of the technology will be guided by the need to learn more, or the opportunity to earn more."
The Embarrassing, Destructive Fight over Biotech's Big Breakthrough by Stephen S. HallScientific AmericanFebruary 4th, 2016The gene-editing technology known as CRISPR has spawned an increasingly unseemly brawl over who will reap the rewards.
A Cautious Approach to Mitochondrial Replacementby Françoise BaylisImpact EthicsFebruary 3rd, 2016While the motivation with mitochondrial replacement (MRT) is distinct from cloning, the transfer technology is the same. MRT can legitimately be seen as a “quiet way station” in which to refine the techniques essential for other genetic interventions (including cloning).
Three-parent DNA treatment for rare defect raises debate [with video][With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]PBS NewshourFebruary 3rd, 2016PBS's William Brangham discusses germline mitochondrial manipulations with Jeffrey Kahn and Marcy Darnovsky.
Babies With Genes From 3 People Could Be Ethical, Panel Says [with audio] [cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rob SteinNPRFebruary 3rd, 2016"People are talking about going forward not just with this, but with the kind of genetic engineering that will produce outright genetically modified human beings."
Center for Genetics and Society Comments on Just-Released Report on Germline Mitochondrial Manipulations[Press statement]February 3rd, 2016The National Academy of Medicine's report conclusion – that no ethical or policy considerations stand in the way of clinical investigations going forward – seems at odds with the many cautions, risks, and concerns that it raises.
Britian has jumped the gun on gene editing by Donna DickensonTelegraph [UK]February 2nd, 2016Particularly where the germline of humanity as a whole is concerned, caution and cooperation should prevail.
We Are Not Ready to Edit Human Embryos Yetby J. Craig VenterTimeFebruary 2nd, 2016Due to our insufficient knowledge, the slippery slope to human enhancement, and the global ban on human experimentation, we need to better understand the software of life before we begin re-writing this code.
U.K. Scientists Given OK to Use ‘Gene Editing’ on Human Embryos[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by David MillsHealthlineFebruary 1st, 2016The experiments raise raised concerns over the possibility that “designer babies” will eventually be produced by using gene editing to alter the DNA of embryos.
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