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Expert Reactions

Embryo research hits ethical barrier – Expert Reaction

John Kerr posted in on May 5th, 2016.

Scientists have broken through a technical barrier in human embryo research and now face an ethical one. Two separate studies published in Nature and Nature Cell Biology today report on new methods allowing human embryos to cultured and studied in Petri dishes for as long as 13 days. Previous studies have struggled to keep embryos […]

Sperm derived from stem cells – Experts reaction

John Kerr posted in on February 26th, 2016.

Scientists in China have created functioning sperm from mice stem cells in the laboratory. To accomplish this feat, the researchers coaxed mouse embryonic stem cells to turn into functional sperm-like cells, which were then injected into egg cells to produce fertile mouse offspring. The research, published in Cell Stem Cell, provides a platform for generating […]

Animal welfare laws shift – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on May 7th, 2015.

A new law change in New Zealand recognises animals as having emotions and requires scientists to consider non-animal techniques before using animals in research. The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passed its final reading in parliament this week (full bill available here). The Bill amends the Animal Welfare Act (1999) in a number of ways, including […]

UK mitochondrial donation vote – experts respond

John Kerr posted in on February 4th, 2015.

The UK House of Commons has voted in favour of a law allowing the creation of embryos where DNA from a fertilised or unfertilised egg is transplanted to a donor egg to avoid certain inherited diseases. In a free vote, 382 MPs were in favour and 128 against the process that allows women carrying defective […]

NZ Parkinson’s trial on hold – experts respond

John Kerr posted in on February 20th, 2014.

An Auckland biotech company is putting its trial of an experimental Parkinson’s disease treatment on hold following the withdrawal of previous animal research. Living Cell Technologies (LCT) has suspended patient recruitment for a clinical trial testing the xenotransplantation of specially encapsulated pig-derived cells (NTCELL) as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Earlier research from the company had […]

US Supreme Court rules human genes cannot be patented – experts respond

Peter Griffin posted in on June 14th, 2013.

AusSMC:The US Supreme Court has ruled that companies cannot patent human genes. The ruling overturns Myriad Genetics patent on genes with links to breast and ovarian cancer. The court has however upheld the ruling that synthetically created exons-only strands of nucleotides known as composite DNA (cDNA) are patentable. The ruling found that “A naturally occurring […]

Bioethics informs debate – Gareth Jones

John Kerr posted in on March 21st, 2013.

Bioethicists challenge boundaries society takes for granted – but must “tread carefully”, writes a leading bioethics expert. The University of Otago’s  Prof Gareth Jones found himself in embroiled in debate earlier this month when he published the New Zealand Medical Journal article, ‘Testing times: do new prenatal tests signal the end of Down syndrome?’ The […]

Synthetic biology’s future

Dacia Herbulock posted in on March 9th, 2012.

A symposium on the future of synthetic biology (PDF) — designing and building new life forms from the ground up — will take place in Sydney next week (13 Mar), as part of a large international conference. This rapidly emerging technology has potential applications in medicine, agriculture, industrial processes, renewable energy and food science and raises […]

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ODT: Should mere humans be ‘playing God’?

Peter Griffin posted in on May 26th, 2010.

Bioethicist Gareth Jones writes about the creation of the first functional synthetic genome, arguing that placing a moratorium on the continuation of such research is not necessary. He also points out that, while the breakthrough is significant, it is years away from having practical applications. An excerpt: (read in full here) “Humans have been increasing […]

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