Genetic Details of Controversial ‘Three-Parent Baby’ Revealed; Technology to Screen Embryos Before Implantation Falls Short; Why the Newly Proposed Sepsis Treatment Needs More Study; Managing Supplies of Vaccines Is a Huge Problem …
April 7, 2017 Donate to CBHD
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The Bioethics Podcast
Conference Speaker Scott B Rae
Scott B. Rae is a leading voice in Christian ethics and will be one of the plenary speakers at our upcoming conference, Genetic & Reproductive Technologies, June 22-24. Dr. Rae is professor and dean at the Talbot School of Theoloy at Biola University and a prolific writer in bioethics.
Mitochondria Replacement to Avoid Maternal Transmission of Mitochondrial Disease
In honor of the upcoming conference, CBHD released an article exploring if mitochondrial replacement techniques respect nascent human life and welcome the child-to-be as our neighbor. This piece provides a sketch of the techniques under consideration and formulates principles to evaluate mitochondrial replacement techniques in light of a Christian understanding of human dignity and the unconditional welcome of children.
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Genetic Details of Controversial ‘Three-Parent Baby’ Revealed
(Nature) — When a US fertility clinic revealed last year that it had created a baby boy using a controversial technique that mixes DNA from three people, scientists were quick to raise the alarm. Some objected on ethical grounds, and others questioned the scientific claims made by the clinic’s leader, physician John Zhang. Now, after months of intense debate and speculation, Zhang’s team has provided more details about the child’s conception, in a paper published on 3 April in Reproductive Biomedicine Online. But major questions remain about the long-term health of the boy, and whether the experiment will ultimately advance reproductive medicine …
Technology to Screen Embryos Before Implantation Falls Short
(Eurekalert) — The healthy development of an embryo created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) depends on whether most, if not all, of the cells have the proper number of chromosomes. With pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) technology, doctors can, in principle, spot-check chromosome count before choosing which embryo to implant in the mother. In a new article, however, scholars at Brown University and the University of Washington report that PGS has serious limitations that can only be overcome with more human embryo research, even as they acknowledge the controversy surrounding that research …
Europe Says University of California Deserves Broad Patent for CRISPR
(Science) — The European Patent Office (EPO) announced on 23 March its “intention to grant a patent” to the University of California (UC) for its broad-based claims about the genome-editing tool popularly known as CRISPR. UC, on behalf of several parties, has been in a pitched battle with the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts, over CRISPR patents, and the new decision marks a sharp departure from the position of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) …
Why the Newly Proposed Sepsis Treatment Needs More Study
(NPR) — Dr. Paul Marik, a well-regarded intensive care physician at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., is the doctor with the extraordinary claim. As we reported last week, he says he has treated about 150 patients with sepsis and that only one died of that often fatal condition (though some died of other causes). The question is how to find out whether he is right — and, ideally, how to do that quickly. Marik’s treatment involves a mix of intravenous corticosteroids, vitamin C and vitamin B, along with careful management of fluids. And his experience, so far, falls far short of the “extraordinary evidence” that a claim like his requires …
Pioneering Cell Transplant Shows Vision and Promise
(Nature) — On 28 March, the same team carried out a procedure that sounds similar, but with an important twist. This time, the retinal repair cells were made using iPS cells from an anonymous donor. There are many things to say about this achievement. The first is congratulations. Takahashi, an ophthalmologist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, and Kurimoto, a surgeon at the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital, have moved iPS-cell technology towards the clinic in the way it should be done — slowly and cautiously — and have thereby set a great precedent. They had non-human primate data, they rigorously tested cells before using them, and when they found a genetic abnormality in the first study — even though it was one that they didn’t think would cause cancer — they called off the procedure and were open about the abnormality …
Managing Supplies of Vaccines Is a Huge Problem
(The Economist) — Keep a tomato cool in a refrigerator and it will stay fresh far longer than it would at room temperature. Accidentally freeze it, though, and you will reduce it to a disgusting mush. A similar problem plagues the storage of vaccines. About six in ten of those procured by UNICEF, the UN’s children’s fund, must be stored at a temperature between 2°C and 8°C. Generally, the focus of efforts to do this is on the top end of the range, with the establishment of “cold chains”, the links of which are refrigerators on the journey from factory to clinic, to stop vaccines overheating. Less effort is put into making sure a vaccine never gets too cold. But a vial of vaccine that has been accidentally frozen, and then thawed, may lose its potency as surely as one that has been warmed up …
India Decriminalizes Attempted Suicide
(The Economist) — Attempted suicide, as well as “any act towards the commission” of suicide, has for years been a crime in India. But on March 27th the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house, passed a package of mental-health reforms, among them one that decriminalises attempted suicide. The bill declares access to psychiatric care to be a right for all Indians, and promises a huge boost in funding to help provide it. Policymakers in India have long argued that people driven to attempt suicide need rehabilitation. But under the previous law, they instead faced punishment: a fine and up to a year in prison …
Greatest Rise in Heroin Use Was Among White People, Study Says
(CNN) — Now, a new study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry looks beyond the total number of overdose deaths to get a better picture of how heroin use patterns have changed since 2001. Since then, the number of people who have used heroin has increased almost five-fold, and the number of people who abuse heroin has approximately tripled. The greatest increases in use occurred among white males …
Note: News stories and events do not necessarily represent the Center’s views. For additional commentary on many of the issues they raise, please see the CBHD web site at Please visit for daily posts on bioethics news and issues.
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