Gene editing might also be used, in principle, to make genetic alterations in gametes or embryos, which will be carried by all of the cells of a resulting child and will be passed on to subsequent generations as part of the human gene pool. Examples that have been proposed range from avoidance of severe inherited diseases to ‘enhancement’ of human capabilities. Such modifications of human genomes might include the introduction of naturally occurring variants or totally novel genetic changes thought to be beneficial.
Germline editing poses many important issues, including:
the risks of inaccurate editing (such as off-target mutations) and incomplete editing of the cells of early-stage embryos (mosaicism);
the difficulty of predicting harmful effects that genetic changes may have under the wide range of circumstances experienced by the human population, including interactions with other genetic variants and with the environment;
the obligation to consider implications for both the individual and the future generations who will carry the genetic alterations;
the fact that, once introduced into the human population, genetic alterations would be difficult to remove and would not remain within any single community or country;
the possibility that permanent genetic ‘enhancements’ to subsets of the population could exacerbate social inequities or be used coercively;
and the moral and ethical considerations in purposefully altering human evolution using this technology.
It would be irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing unless and until
the relevant safety and efficacy issues have been resolved, based on appropriate understanding and balancing of risks, potential benefits, and alternatives,
and there is broad societal consensus about the appropriateness of the proposed application.
Moreover, any clinical use should proceed only under appropriate regulatory oversight. At present, these criteria have not been met for any proposed clinical use: the safety issues have not yet been adequately explored; the cases of most compelling benefit are limited; and many nations have legislative or regulatory bans on germline modification. However, as scientific knowledge advances and societal views evolve, the clinical use of germline editing should be revisited on a regular basis.
Women-Centered Perspectives (Contemporary Issues in Biomedicine, Ethics, and Society)
Women most fully experience the consequences of human reproductive technologies. Men who convene to evaluate such technologies discuss “them”: the women who must accept, avoid, or even resist these technologies; the women who consume technologies they did not devise; the women who are the objects of policies made by men. So often the input of women is neither sought nor listened to. The privileged insights and perspectives that women bring to the consideration of technologies in human reproduction are the subject of these volumes, which constitute the revised and edited record of a Workshop on “Ethical Issues in Human Reproduction Technology: Analysis by Women” (EIRTAW), held in June, 1979, at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Some 80 members of the workshop, 90 percent of them women (from 24 states), represented diverse occupations and personal histories, different races and classes, varied political commitments. They included doctors, nurses, and scientists, lay midwives, consumer advocates, historians, and sociologists, lawyers, policy analysts, and ethicists. Each session, however, made plain that ethics is an everyday concern for women in general, as well as an academic profession for some.
The United Kingdom is on course to become the first country to allow in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to create babies using biological material from three people to prevent serious inherited disease, after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the procedure, reports the BMJ.
The UK House of Commons voted by 382 to 128 to approve regulations allowing mitochondrial donation, after MPs were given a free vote of conscience on the issue.
House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, 2013
Clinical trials are the experimental foundation on which modern medicine is built. Trials also make a significant contribution to the UK economy and can provide patients with an important means of accessing the most exciting and innovative new treatments, before they reach the market.
Here you can browse the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report together with the Proceedings of the Committee.
” 3.9 – I hope that the Science and Technology Committee will agree with Jeremy Paxman that the current situation is indeed “nuts”—unethical, unscientiﬁc and uneconomic nuts. “ ” 3.10 – My efforts to prompt improvement in clinical trial transparency over most of the past 30 years have manifestly failed. However, it is becoming clear that Sense about Science’s recently launched public campaign (www.alltrials.net) and Ben Goldacre‘s bestselling book Bad Pharma may be “game changers”. For the ﬁrst time in over 30 years I feel that there is reason to hope for substantive progress. I think that those who continue not to take under-reporting of research seriously will ﬁnd themselves on the wrong side of history. I hope that the Committee will see to it that, after decades of inadequate action, something substantial will be done to deal with the current, indefensible situation. ”