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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.



Genome Editing: The Age of the Red Pen [References CGS]The EconomistAugust 22nd, 2015Because it is so simple and easy to use, CRISPR has generated huge excitement in the worlds of molecular biology, medical research, commercial biotechnology
'Gene Drive': Scientists Sound Alarm Over Supercharged GM Organisms Which Could Spread in the Wild and Cause Environmental Disastersby Steve ConnorThe IndependentAugust 2nd, 2015Scientists fear new technique for generating “supercharged” genetically modified organisms that can spread rapidly in the wild may be misused and cause health emergency or environmental disaster.
The Facts Behind #CRISPRfacts and the Hype Behind CRISPRby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesJuly 28th, 2015WIRED's hyped CRISPR cover article triggered a wave of tweets and criticism.
Can We Cure Genetic Diseases Without Slipping Into Eugenics?by Nathaniel ComfortThe NationJuly 16th, 2015Gene editing could correct genetic mutations for serious illnesses. Will it also create a new eugenics of personal choice?
Our Focus on the Future Present by Jacob CornInnovative Genomics Initiative blogJuly 6th, 2015At this time, the Innovative Genomics Initiative Lab will not do research on human germline editing for the following several reasons.
Genetically Modified Humans? Seven Reasons to Say “No”by Center for Genetics and SocietyCrossing the threshold into inheritable human genetic alterations has long been considered dangerously unacceptable for both safety and social reasons.
Editing Of Human Embryo Genes Raises Ethics Questionsby Britt E. EricksonChemical & Engineering NewsJune 29th, 2015With the promise of gene-editing tools come worries that the technology could be used to create designer babies with enhanced traits, such as higher intelligence or greater beauty.
The Promise and Peril of Crisprby John Lauerman and Caroline ChenBloomberg BusinessweekJune 25th, 2015The "cheap gene-editing method could lead to cures — and frankenbabies."
US Congress Moves to Block Human-Embryo Editingby Sara ReardonNature NewsJune 25th, 2015The House appropriations committee has approved a spending bill that would prohibit the FDA from spending money to evaluate research or clinical applications on gene editing in human embryos.
CRISPR: Move Beyond Differencesby Charis ThompsonNatureJune 24th, 2015Researchers and ethicists need to see past what can seem to be gendered debates when it comes to the governance of biotechnology.
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