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Cloning monkeys for research puts humans on a slippery ethical slope – The Conversation (David Hunter | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 17, 2019
 

Scientists have many tools at their disposal to study, manipulate and copy genes.

We don’t ordinarily include animal ethics items in the newsroom/Resource Library (this is the third such item out of 1300+ entries), primarily because we feel ill-equipped to comments on such matters, and we are not ordinarily proponents of slippery slope arguments, but David Hunter’s comments here are well made and worthy of consideration.

Now it appears researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai, China, have combined techniques to produce a world first: gene edited, cloned macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis).
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Qiang Sun, a senior researcher in the project and Director of ION’s Nonhuman Primate Research Facility explains:
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We believe that this approach of cloning gene-edited monkeys could be used to generate a variety of monkey models for gene-based diseases, including many brain diseases, as well as immune and metabolic disorders and cancer.
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Whose hearts, livers and lungs are transplanted in China? Origins must be clear in human organ research – The Conversation (Wendy Rogers and Matthew Robertson | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 14, 2019
 

Scientist He Jiankui’s claimed use of the genetic tool CRISPR to edit the genomes of twin girls led to international condemnation. His actions have focused a spotlight on research ethics – and what the consequences should be when scientists “go rogue”.

The Chinese Academy of Science initially looked into He’s conduct, and a subsequent internal government investigation has allegedly identified multiple violations of state laws. He has now been fired by his university.


Read more: Tension as scientist at centre of CRISPR outrage speaks at genome editing summit


But beyond just this example, what does happen when scientists fail to comply with globally-accepted guidelines for ethical medical research? We examined this issue focusing on published research involving recipients of organ transplants performed in the People’s Republic of China.\

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Claim of CRISPR’d baby girls stuns genome editing summit – STAT (Sharon Begley | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 12, 2019
 

HONG KONG — A Chinese scientist’s claim that he used the genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the DNA of human embryos, resulting in the birth a few weeks ago of twin girls, stunned organizers of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, leaving them scrambling to evaluate the claim two days before the scientist is scheduled to speak at the meeting.

“I don’t know the details” of the claim by He Jiankui, said David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, chairman of the organizing committee of the summit, which begins on Tuesday in Hong Kong. “We don’t know what will be said” when He speaks at a session on human embryo editing.

The summit’s organizing committee issued a statement Monday saying they had only just learned of He’s research in Shenzhen, China. “Whether the clinical protocols that resulted in the births in China conformed with the guidance” of leading scientific bodies for conducting clinical trials of heritable genome editing “remains to be determined,” the statement said. “We hope that the dialogue at our summit further advances the world’s understanding of the issues surrounding human genome editing. Our goal is to help ensure that human genome editing research be pursued responsibly, for the benefit of all society.”

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Wake-up call from Hong Kong – Science (Victor J. Dzau, et al | December 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 12, 2019
 

The Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held in Hong Kong last month, was rocked by the revelation from a researcher from Shenzhen that twins were born whose healthy embryonic genomes had been edited to confer resistance to HIV. Despite widespread condemnation by the summit organizing committee, world scientific academies, and prominent scientific leaders that such research was “deeply disturbing” and “irresponsible,” and the launch of an investigation in China into the researcher’s actions, it is apparent that the ability to use CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the human genome has outpaced nascent efforts by the scientific and medical communities to confront the complex ethical and governance issues that they raise. The current guidelines and principles on human germline genome editing are based on sound scientific and ethical principles. However, this case highlights the urgent need to accelerate efforts to reach international agreement upon more specific criteria and standards that have to be met before human germline editing would be deemed permissible.

“We need…broad agreement on…criteria for human germline genome editing research…”

Together, we call upon international academies to quickly convene international experts and stakeholders to produce an expedited report that will inform the development of these criteria and standards to which all genome editing in human embryos for reproductive purposes must conform, and to engage scientific bodies around the world in this effort. The United States National Academies are willing to lead in this endeavor. Academies are well-positioned to convene needed international expertise and to help foster broad scientific consensus on the responsible pursuit of human genome editing research and clinical applications. We strongly believe that international consensus on such standards is important to avoid the potential for researchers to rationalize the justification or seek out convenient locales for conducting dangerous and unethical experimentation. The establishment of international scientific standards is not intended to substitute for national regulation but could inform such regulation.

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