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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.



Hateful politics infiltrate human genome editing debate in Franceby Elliot HosmanJune 29th, 2016New campaign calling for an international moratorium on CRISPR embryos experiments launched by prominent anti-abortion, anti-LGBT French group.
UK Researchers Now Say Three-Person Embryo Technique Doesn't Work; Propose New Methodby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJune 8th, 2016New research shows the mitochondrial manipulation technique recently legalized in the UK faces major unknowns.
Unheard Publics in the Human Genome Editing Policy Debateby Elliot HosmanJune 8th, 2016The socially dangerous prospect of using genome editing tools for human reproduction underlies the need for caution in modifying embryos in basic research.
On Cyborgs and Gene Editing: Lessons from Orphan Blackby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical Times guest contributorJune 1st, 2016The television show takes a cue from science fiction author Donna Haraway and engages the dangers of human genetic modification.
British scientist can genetically modify human embryos, ethics committee saysby Lydia WillgressThe Telegraph [UK]May 27th, 2016Following HFEA approval in February, a local ethics committee approves Kathy Niakan's program to CRISPR human embryos for basic research.
Will Modern Genetics Turn Us Into Gene “Genies”?[Collection of brief essays]by Marcy Darnovsky, Dan Sarewitz, Samuel Weiss Evans, Arvis Sulovari, Eric A. WidraZócalo Public SquareMay 24th, 2016Contributors discuss their stances on the dangers and potential benefits of gene manipulation.
Huntington’s disease: the new gene therapy that sufferers cannot affordby Dara MohammadiThe Guardian [UK]May 15th, 2016Efforts to treat Huntington’s disease involve costly drugs way beyond the reach of the poor communities in South America who take part in research studies
Orphan Black emphasizes the science in its sci-fi with a disturbing chapter on eugenicsby Caroline FramkeVoxMay 15th, 2016The BBC America series about human clones is now tackling the personal, scientific, and societal implications of eugenics, gene editing, and germline engineering.
After rivals’ IPOs, will CRISPR Therapeutics go public or stay buttoned-down?by Damian GardeSTATMay 12th, 2016Like CRISPR Therapeutics, Intellia and Editas were once cagey about their development pipelines, but in documents filed with the government prior to their IPOs, they had to spell out the what, when, and how of their work.
Three Cambridge startups are on a mission to fix broken genesby Robert WeismanThe Boston GlobeMay 11th, 2016Editas, Intellia, and CRISPR Therapeutics aim to cure diseases from cancer to blood disorders, but these would-be gene editors also must navigate a new round of ethical questions.
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