sábado, 6 de febrero de 2016

Green light for UK CRISPR embryo research

Green light for UK CRISPR embryo research

Green light for UK CRISPR embryo research

Developmental biologist Kathy Niakan has received permission from the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to edit the genome of embryos using CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing technology.

The HFEA, which grants licenses for experimentation on embryos, sperm and eggs in the UK,  approved the research at a license committee on January 14.

Niakan, a researcher at the Francis Crick Institute in London WHICH IS??? A new institute, plans to investigate the precise genetic make-up needed for an embryo to develop into a healthy baby.

"The reason why it is so important is because miscarriages and infertility are extremely common, but they're not very well understood”, she told the BBC.

The UK has now become the first nation in the world to consider and approve the DNA-altering technique in embryos.

Some scientists lauded the announcement. Peter Braude, an emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynecology at King’s College London, said that he was delighted to hear of the approval:

“Gene editing tools will allow fresh insights into the basic genetic mechanisms that control cell allocation in the early embryo. These mechanisms are crucial in ensuring healthy normal development and implantation, and when they go wrong might result in failure to implant or miscarriage. I await results with interest.”
Others were more sceptical. Donna Dickenson, Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics, University of London, expressed concern about the potential effects of germline modifications on future generations:

“Future generations, however, are not able to consent to germline editing that will manipulate their welfare in ways that we cannot yet predict or alter if things go wrong. Looking back, our descendants might or might not accept our decision as legitimate, but they will have no way of changing it.”
Bioethicist Peter Saunders, the founder of Christian Medical Fellowship, is doubtful about the ability of embryonic gene-editing to redress genetic abnormalities:

“genetic abnormalities which result in implantation failure (either in IVF or naturally) or miscarriage are chromosomal abnormalities, not abnormalities in single genes. But only abnormalities in single genes can be fixed with gene editing of the sort that the Crick Institute is proposing. Gene editing does not fix chromosomal abnormalities.”
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/green-light-for-uk-crispr-embryo-research/11738#sthash.Rt27K7Jg.dpuf


I’m sure it’s just randomness and not something in the water, but often our newsletters seem devoted to a theme, be it euthanasia, or IVF, or stem cell research. This time, unfortunately, it’s skulduggery.
Below you can read about a Los Angeles doctor who has just been sentenced to 30 years in jail for prescribing powerful pain-killer to drug addicts, some of whom ended up dead. Then there’s another euthanasia scandal in Belgium in which a 37-year-old woman died at the hands of an incompetent doctorafter being diagnosed with autism. (Autism? Are you kidding?)
The most colourful, however, is the on-going controversy surrounding trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who made headlines for creating artificial windpipes with stem cells. It turns out that his research, his CV and his romantic life all involve a fair bit of unsubstantiated creativity. Some of his patients died, too.
No surprises here. Human nature being what it is, there are bound to be a few bad apples in the medical barrel.
But it should lead us to reflect that governments need to take the possibility of misconduct very seriously when they are crafting legislation for the new genetic technologies. An English academic recently wrote in The Guardian that “playing God with our genes … is a good thing because God, nature or whatever we want to call the agencies that have made us, often get it wrong and it’s up to us to correct those mistakes.”
But if it is people like the doctors above who are playing God, it’s very likely that they will make irreparable mistakes. If scientists want to sack God, they should think very carefully about the CVs of the persons who will be moving into his office. 

Michael Cook



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