CRISPR

Genetically Modifying Human Embryos Is OK, Say U.K. Regulators

Researchers will use CRISPR gene-editing technique to explore how human embryos develop.

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CRISPREconomist
Economist

The U.K.'s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has approved the proposal by stem researchers at the Francis Crick Institute to use the CRISPR gene-editing technique to modify the genomes of donated surplus IVF embryos. The researchers will use CRISPR to turn genes associated with the development of the placenta off and on with the goal of figuring out why miscarriages occur more frequently in some women. The gene-edited embryos will be allowed to develop for 14 days and then be discarded.

The approval follows in the wake of the historic International Summit on Human Gene Editing held last December in Washington, D.C. As I reported then:

At the close of the summit, the organizers issued a statement that, while noting current safety issues with regard to using CRISPR for germline interventions, nevertheless declined to recommend a permanent ban on making inheritable changes in the human genome. The statement also rejected calls for a temporary moratorium on basic and preclinical research using gene-edited gametes and embryos. However, such gene edited cells should not be used to establish a pregnancy.

The HFEA's greenlight for the editing experiments is being hailed by researchers. From The Guardian:

"The ruling by the HFEA is a triumph for common sense," said Darren Griffin, professor of genetics, University of Kent, said. "While it is certain that the prospect of gene editing in human embryos raised a series of ethical issues and challenges, the problem has been dealt with in a balanced manner. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.

Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, called it "a victory for level-headed regulation over moral panic".

Nevetheless, it won't be long before the professional moral panickers, well, panic over this research. In fact, some have already pre-panicked. From Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society:

"Allowing a form of human inheritable genetic modification will put the UK at odds with every other country that has ever considered it, as well as multiple international human rights treaties.  Advocates say that approving these techniques will make the UK a scientific pioneer. In fact, it risks becoming a pariah."

For more background see my column, "Gene-Editing Human Embryos Is Ethical."

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  1. Upcoming new headline:

    UK Appoves Mass Abortion

    1. To be an abortion, you’d have to kill someone in the womb.

      There’s no woman carrying the embryo here, there’s no “my right to evict a trespasser” concerns, just the right to live versus convenience in killing.

      1. You’re being completely unfair! Some of those embryos probably won’t develop normal placentas and would probably have died anyway.

      2. I think you may have a point, here. Would they be viable?

    2. Abortion refers to the pregnancy, not the proto-human. This is just killing.

      1. Seems to me that destroying a fetus is aborting the life of a a potential person (if you’re determined to believe that).

  2. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.

    Benefits: Preventing miscarriages.
    Risks: Future race of supermen enslave humanity.

    1. Meh, better super men than robots.

      1. Synths are bad, mmkay?

        1. But are they worse than Super Mutants?
          Those are our only choices.

          …and pet Deathclaws.

          1. Forged is worse. If they’re Forged, synth, super mutant, doesn’t matter, they gonna die, period.

    2. They offer the world ORDER.

      1. We already lived through one eugenics wars back in the 90’s. Why is Bailey so eager for another?

        1. maybe he’s the only other person who ever watched the 4400?

          1. Damn, Hugh, that’s cold.

    3. Have you ever read Milton, FoE?

    4. So instead of going away, the patriarchy is coming back even stronger? I for one welcome our new patriarchy overlords.

    5. I know people are honestly afraid of super humans taking over. I don’t understand this fear. We are already ruled but corrupt fools, how would super men be worse?

      1. You remember that thing with tractors and people wielding pitchforks to stop them? It’s those people.

        1. They’re also the same people that complain that only stupid people are breeding. Do you want dumber or smarter people? Fear of the unknown, nothing new.

          1. Those people with multiple pieces of paper which prove they’re smarter than anyone else sort of have a vested interest in making sure that most people are not so smart as they are. Those Ivory towers need a strong foundation.

    6. Sauron supermen are here.

    7. Khannnnnnn!

  3. Mulder and Scully are having doubts about this.

  4. GMO food = bad
    GMO people = good

    It will be interesting to see the doubletalk involved in holding both.

    1. Just don’t eat the babies.

  5. Paper claiming to have demonstrated the presence of engineered DNA in goats whose mothers had been fed GM soybeans while pregnant RETRACTED.

    http://www.the-scientist.com/?…..Retracted/

    1. RAH: Already blogged. Nevertheless, thanks for flagging.

      1. Ron, I admire you for conversing with us deniers. One day I am going to read one of your books. I’m sort of a futurist/optimist anyway, always have been, so I’d probably enjoy The End of Doom.

        1. Buy the books, jerk!!!

          I bought EcoScam when I was 15.

          God damn, I’m old.

          1. God damn, I’m old.

            On the upside, that means you’ll die soon. So it’s not all bad.

            1. Nah. Unless I get hit by a bus, I’m good. I had ribs for breakfast, and I could feel my cholesterol going down.

              1. You forgot to wrap the ribs in bacon, deep fry them, and then have a carton of cigarettes and half a fifth of bourban with it. How do you expect to live 1000 years if you’re ignoring the basics?

  6. I’m going to engineer my son to have a micropenis, so that he retains the benefits of being a man (superior brain), but is not distracted by slutty women so he can focus on becoming the starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders.

    I guess I’ll engineer him a good arm, too.

    1. How would having a micropenis make him not distracted by slutty women, JJ? Maybe you should engineer him to not be retarded like his father; that will probably take him a lot further in life.

      1. I dunno. I just figured that since I have an enormous cock, and I’m constantly being distracted by slutty women, that some kind of inverse principal would apply.

        1. That principle only works regarding testicles, JJ, you blithering idiot. Don’t you know anything? I have an advanced degree in Dicknology!

          1. Looks like Epi is the new authority on everything dick. Why is this not so suprising?

            1. Are you telling me that I don’t know dick? If anybody knows how to build a ship out of dicks, it is me!

              1. Pics or it didn’t happen.

            2. You should see the Dickship he built to return to Dick Planet.

              1. It’s totally gay that we posted those comments at the same time.

                1. It’s totally gay that we posted those comments at the same time

                  Then stop being so gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

                2. Well, JJ, I *am* the gayest monster since gay went to Gaytown. Just sayin’.

              2. I would stowaway to this planet Dick if I were first assured of a plentiful supply of vagina when I arrive.

      2. Re: Episiarch,

        Maybe you should engineer him to not be retarded like his father[…]

        That’s funny. You say it as if it were something that can be remedied. You’re being too nice.

    2. Johnny Longtorso approves.

      1. Longtorso got his micropenis the old fashioned way.

        1. This is how it begins, Citizen X. The Adeptus Astartes trace their origins to this moment.

          You know of that which I speak.

    3. New Vegas Raiders, bro.

  7. “The gene-edited embryos will be allowed to develop for 14 days and then be discarded.”

    So…experimenting on living human beings, killing a living human being, use of euphemisms to describe the process, nothing to worry about here.

      1. Are you suggesting Heaven is over-populated?

        1. The heavenly version of gentrification is when grown people die and their wealthier souls drive out the embryo souls that live in currently low-rent areas.

        2. Are you suggesting that in Heaven there is no beer?

          1. That’s why we drink it here!

      2. “Is Heaven Populated Chiefly by the Souls of Embryos?”

        While Mr. Bailey remains focused on theology, prolifers look at science.

        See here.

        Regarding the ensoulment talking point, see here

        “On one side of the abortion controversy, the Catholic Church?and every pro-lifer I have ever encountered, including pro-lifers with no religious faith who are capable of natural theology?believes that our “ensoulment,” or whatever is unique about our humanity and makes us bearers of the right to life, is coterminous with our coming into being. And modern science…knows perfectly well when that happens. On the other side are people who either deny the factual dispensations of science, or want to place a “personhood” marker on some arbitrary development of the human person, before or even after birth. But they do not make arguments about “ensoulment,” indeed they avoid all talk of souls altogether.”

        1. So in reply to my first post, you claim that this isn’t abortion.

          Now here you are claiming that destroying embryos is killing people.

          You also appear to be claiming that your theology is backed up by science.

          Why do people talk to you? Why am I talking to you?

          1. “You also appear to be claiming that your theology is backed up by science.”

            Hmmm, I suppose you were reading fairly quickly or else you would have seen the sentence reading “…every pro-lifer I have ever encountered, including pro-lifers with no religious faith who are capable of natural theology?believes that our “ensoulment,” or whatever is unique about our humanity and makes us bearers of the right to life, is coterminous with our coming into being.”

            I suppose your rage was blinding you to important key phrases like “pro-lifers with no religious faith” and “”our ‘ensoulment’ or whatever is unique about our humanity and makes us bearers of the right to life.”

            But you’d probably stopped reading well before reaching those phrases.

            1. Using the term “ensoulment” sort of loads it with religious meaning, but the point stands. if you believe that people have rights, then there must be a point, or at least a period of time, during which we acquire those rights.

              And the argument that goes “I might believe that we acquire rights at [insert stage of development here] but I’m not willing to force that view on other people” seems like an argument for complete moral relativism. If you let everyone decide for themselves when to start respecting other people’s rights, you lose any moral foundation for protecting rights at all. The whole thing devolves into “might makes right”. Or at least that is how it seems to me. Feel free to counter.

              1. Counter? I agree with you.

                Like you said – “If you let everyone decide for themselves when to start respecting other people’s rights, you lose any moral foundation for protecting rights at all.”

                And here’s an article by a prolife atheist.

                1. I know. Blame Reason’s shallow threading limits.

                2. I suppose you’re arguing that moral relativism isn’t what everyone on Earth already engages in. Are you making the case that Christianity is the objectively correct moral standard? I wouldn’t put it past you, but I’m curious if you truly believe that.

                  1. I’m not sure if you are asking me or Eddie. Personally, I would say that morality is inherently subjective, in the sense that you can’t arrive at a purely empirical, logic driven moral system as if it were a science – there are always subjective value judgments. But I don’t think all moral systems are equally valid, and I think a moral system that can’t even consistently defend it’s own precepts is barely a moral system at all.

                    I would also hedge all this by saying that these are questions I’m still trying to work through, so don’t take any of this as being permanently engraved on the cockles of my heart.

                    1. In my beliefs, there are some moral decisions that are more right than others. But I’m also not going to be calling my moral decisions objectively correct and trying to force everyone else to agree with them. As best I can tell, every current religion falls into the “can’t even consistently defend its own precepts” pool. Like you, I am trying to carefully examine my thoughts on morality and as of now I fall into the metaethical moral relativism club.

                      I think you’ll be hard pressed to find two people who agree on moral decisions right down the line. Everyone already is deciding for themselves when to respect another’s rights.

                    2. As best I can tell, every current religion falls into the “can’t even consistently defend its own precepts” pool.

                      That’s probably true, and a consequence of most moral systems being emergent rather than designed (or at least intentionally designed).

                      Everyone already is deciding for themselves when to respect another’s rights.

                      As a practical matter, sure. But within some idealized moral system (or at least an idealized libertarian moral system), what constitutes rights and when you are bound to respect them would supposedly flow from some fairly simple and generally agreed upon axioms, and what you *should* do would flow logically from there. And I think one of those axioms has to be about when some entity gains rights. Otherwise it seems like the whole thing becomes logically inconsistent, which is a sign of a bad moral system (IMO).

                    3. Hey LynchPin1477 ?

                      You’re just not being fanatic enough!!!

                      I like this quote from Leo Tolstoy http://righteousforsilver.blog…..f-day.html , although Samuel Taylor Coleridge said the original?

                      “…He who begins by loving Christianity more than the truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself (his own peace) better than all, said Coleridge. I have gone the opposite way. I began by loving my Orthodox faith more than my own peace, then I loved Christianity more than my own church, and now I love the truth more than anything else in the world.”

                      Substitute any other ideology in there for “Christianity” and it works pretty much just as well? If we want to do right, we have to keep our ideology in its proper place. “Love” is my ideology; it is hard to pervert that?

        2. So, when did quickening stop being a thing? Just because it’s human flesh doesn’t necessarily mean there is a human spirit, theologically speaking.

          Though, theologically speaking, no one is in heaven ‘cept Jesus and God. And maybe Elijah? Leastaways if you ask John about it.

          1. Theologically speaking,

            “All dogs go to Heaven”.

            But also…

            “In Heaven, there ain’t no beer,
            That’s why we drink it here.”

            So… Do NOT teach your dog to drink beer, and like it! That would be cruelty to animals!

      3. Somatic cells (body cells) can be turned into stem cells, so… Every time I bleed (which includes white blood cells that could possibly be turned into stem cells), or, for that matter, eat… When I eat, I am knocking mouth-cheek-lining cells off of my mouth walls, and digesting them… Then when I bleed, and when I eat… When I EAT anything but soft foods or liquids, fer Chrissakes!!! I am a mass murderer, murdering ensouled babies!!!

        I just don’t know WHAT to do any more, to live a truly moral and ethical life! Also, Al Gore tells me that as long as I live, I breathe out C-O-2, a nasty “warming” gas… Is suicide, then, the only ethical choice left? Somehow, I can’t buy that, some logic has gone astray here somewhere…

  8. As long as no one eats them, I guess it’s ok.

  9. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.

    “It is clear that the foreseen benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the potential risks.”

    “It is clear that the foreseen risks of the work proposed far outweigh the potential benefits.”

    “It is clear that the potential risks of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen benefits.”

    It’s clarity all the way down!

  10. The researchers will use CRISPR to turn genes associated with the development of the placenta off and on with the goal of figuring out why miscarriages occur more frequently in some women.

    Which should benefit the important women. Otherwise, why bother?(*)

    The gene-edited embryos will be allowed to develop for 14 days and then be discarded.

    In order for some to live, some must die.

    (*) Isn’t “Overpopulation” a popular subject among academics?

  11. OT Post? “Operating Thetan” post? Fits in generally w/the topic here though?

    “Y” Bother with a “Y” Chromosome at ALL?!?! Males Need Not Apply Here?
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..151937.htm
    Male mice without any Y chromosome genes can father offspring after assisted reproduction

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