Pope Francis Said to Bless Human-Animal Chimeras

January 27, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a prominent stem-cell biologist, is engaged in efforts to grow human tissue inside of farm animals such as pigs, sheep, and cows. This type of research is sensitive because scientists have to inject human stem cells into early-stage animal embryos, then try to implant the embryos into surrogate animals in the hopes of producing fully-formed human organs for transplant. Belmonte told Scientific American that Pope Francis has personally blessed this ethically questionable research which may blur the line between human and...

Human-Animal Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms

January 6, 2016: Read article in MIT Technology Review. Despite criticism, some researchers are attempting to grow human organs for transplant in animal embryos, an ethical grey area which, while potentially extremely beneficial for individuals needing organ transplants, could blur the line between species by adding human cells to animal...

Get Ready for the World’s First Cyborg Olympics

December 18, 2015: Read article in IEEE Spectrum. The first ever bioenhanced Olympics, known as the Cybathlon, will take place in Zurich in October 2016. Athletes will use advanced technologies to compensate for disabilities like paralysis and limb amputation, raising issues of identity, competition, and the future of sports as technologies of this kind become increasingly...

Summit Rules Out Ban on Gene Editing Embryos Destined to Become People

December 3, 2015: Read article in The Guardian.   Scientists convened to debate the future of human gene editing at an international summit in Washington organized by the national academies of the US, UK and China. The experts made clear that altering the DNA of human embryos for clinical purposes was unacceptable given the unknown risks today and noted that even the most compelling cases to use the procedure were...

How to (Really) Engineer a Human Baby

November 26, 2015: Read article in the MIT Technology Review. Next week, in Washington, D.C., the world’s experts on a powerful new genetic-engineering technology called CRISPR will convene at the National Academy of Sciences for a historic meeting at which they’ll consider calling for a global moratorium on anyone trying to use the technique to make genetically modified babies. The worry is that changing the DNA of the next generation is unsafe and a slippery slope toward eugenics. Yet many of the scientists attending the Washington meeting won’t be there to ban the technology, but to trade tips about how, exactly, they might be able to do it...