Category: Science

Say No to Designer Babies

This article is the second in a series on twenty-first-century ethical issues related to human genetics. To read the previous article, click here. Human reproduction is a roulette wheel, a game of chance in which the child embodies bits and pieces of their biological parents, forming a never-before-seen fusion of the two people. The element… Read more »

CRISPR, Scientific Discovery, and Women Rewriting History

What if we had the power to rewrite precise portions of DNA, the universal language of biology? The implications would be far-reaching; editing this code would change how we think about crops, disease, and bioethics among a multitude of other fields. Thanks to a scientific tool developed by Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, this power… Read more »

Eugenics: Then, Now, and Never Legal

Stop Forced Sterilization Poster from the San Francisco Poster Brigade, 1977. Source: Library of Congress

The concept of breeding is nothing new to us. Designer dogs are bred to make perfect pets and stately show animals. Millions are spent in the pursuit of the two fastest Thoroughbreds who will breed the next Kentucky Derby winner. But what about the breeding of humans? Some believe our genetic code dictates how we… Read more »

Putting a Price on Life

How much would you be willing to pay for your life? If you’re one of 3,100 young Americans living with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the current asking price is $475,000. In August of 2017, the FDA approved a groundbreaking gene therapy to treat this specific type of cancer. The treatment is called Kymriah, and… Read more »

Lost and Found: Searching for the World’s Lost Birds

For twelve days this October, a team of Brazilian birders and ornithologists performed an exhaustive search of Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic Forest. Their target was the tiny Kinglet Calyptura, a bird so sought after it is often called the “Holy Grail” of South American birding. For over one hundred years, the bird was as lost as… Read more »

The Three-Parent Baby: A Year Later

The scientific community is abuzz with reports that a few months ago, following fertility treatments in Mexico, a baby was born in New York to a Jordanian couple. Prior to the birth of this child, the couple had two children. Both suffered from Leigh syndrome, a disease resulting from mitochondrial defects that causes children to… Read more »

The Brave New World of Gene Editing

Biotechnology has progressed faster than our society’s ability to understand it. Our newfound powers raise serious ethical questions.

Fixing the Powerhouse of the Cell

The headlines are attention grabbing: “House of Lords Legalizes Three-Parent Babies”. But what exactly is a three-parent baby? And what does their legalization mean? Three-parent babies could be the answer to one of the most common and deadly genetic mutations. Mitochondrial mutations within a developing fetus can lead to crippling diseases throughout the child’s adult… Read more »

Healthcare: The Next Generation

Huntington’s disease (HD) is notoriously deadly. No cure and high rates of heritability make it a death sentence not only for the individual diagnosed, but also for immediate family members. Huntington’s hides inside a person’s genotype, and generally expresses itself when a person reaches 30-50 years of age. It causes the loss of mental faculties and… Read more »