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Showing posts with the label bioethics

Smoke and Monkeys

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Folks in the United Kingdom may be changing their rules for wood and coal fires. Or maybe not. It depends on whether their rules match Europe's.

Volkswagen paid researchers to mistreat monkeys and people. Or maybe not. We know the research happened. It's complicated, a bunch of folks are upset, and I'll get back to that.

Fireplaces, outdoor grills, and coal-burning furnaces aren't basically bad. Neither is learning how stuff in the air affects animals. And us.

But having smoky fires upwind of our neighbors isn't a good idea. Neither is mistreating critters. Or people.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Editing Genes, Ethically

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Scientists at England's John Innes Centre learned how to grow plants that produce polio vaccine. That sounds like a very good idea, particularly since the process should work for other vaccines, too.

The other 'genetic engineering' news raises issues that can spark strong feelings: and should encourage serious thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Good Intentions

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Variations on "dead men tell no tales" go back at least to 1560 or thereabouts in my language. The idea is much older.1

As advice goes, it's arguably flawed. Folks who are dead aren't chatty, but their bodies occasionally pop up at inopportune times.

I'll be talking about unmarked and unremembered graves, insane asylums, and similarly-uncheerful things. It's not all bad news, though.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Different Sorts of "Dead"

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Deciding who's dead and who's not isn't always easy. But getting the answer right can be a matter of life or death....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Sweet Potatoes, Genes, and Long Life

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One woman decided to take a road trip after learning she had a terminal illness. Another switched careers. Both choices make sense, given the circumstances.

This year's World Food Prize goes to a team who developed a new sweet potato, scientists found a virus with spider genes, and there's a lively difference of opinion regarding human life span.

We've learned a lot since my youth, and there's a great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Alchemy, Science, Life, and Health

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(From BBC, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.)
("I find that nothing's ever exactly like you expect...." (Professor Richard Lazarus))

A mad scientist's lot is not a happy one. All he wants is to redefine being human: and the next thing you know, he's eating guests at his victory celebration.

Doctor Who's The Lazarus Experiment doesn't have much to do with The Devil Bat and The Brain That Wouldn't Die, apart from featuring a mad scientist — and science gone horribly wrong.

Some movies, like Fantastic Voyage and Things to Come, present science and technology as useful.

But "tampering with thing man was not supposed to know," as Mr. Squibbs put it, keeps the plot going for quite a few; like Altered Species, They Saved Hitler's Brain, and Island of Lost Souls.

Reticence, reasonable and otherwise, regarding new ideas isn't new....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Bioethics and a Three-Parent Baby

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A Jordanian couple have a baby boy: who does not have a lethal genetic disorder, thanks to DNA transplanted from a third person. Four of his siblings did not survive the procedure.

I'll be talking about the decisions involved in that procedure, research involving "tiny brains" grown from human cells, genetically modified humans grown as research subjects, and water bears....

...After discussing recent genetics news, I'll share why I take human experimentation and medical ethics personally, and what I see coming in the near future....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Bulldogs, Transgenics, and a Robot

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English Bulldogs aren’t what they used to be: which is a problem for folks who want the breed to survive. A team of scientists says that the British mascot’s bloodline is more than a bit too pure.

Other scientists developed MouSensor, mutant mice with open slots for plug and play genetic code.

Finally, a tiny robot with rat muscles that swims like a fish.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Cryonics, Smallpox, and Pope Pius VII

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I remember when heart transplants were front-page international news, not local human interest stories: and when polio vaccinations were new. I really do not miss the 'good old days.' I remember them, and they weren't.

I also remember when cryonics was 'science fiction stuff,' not a highly-experimental and controversial medical procedure. I probably won't live long enough to see whether it works. But if you're young enough: you might....

...Since I'll be talking about life, death, and medical practices, I'd better start by saying that I'm a Christian: a Catholic.

Like it says in the Apostles Creed, "I believe in ... the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." I'll be explaining why I don't see a conflict between that belief and trying to save lives....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Synthetic Life, DNA Profiles

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Syn 3.0, developed by the Ventner Institute, has fewer genes than any 'wild' bacteria. The 'artificial' microcritter is another important step in understanding how life works.

On the other side of the Atlantic, folks in the United Kingdom will be deciding what to do about a bureaucratic SNAFU and their national DNA database....

...I've seen attitudes toward science and technology shift from silly optimism to equally-silly pessimism.

I am reasonably certainly that mutant safflowers won't destroy civilization. On the other hand, ethics matter as much now as they ever did....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mutant Medflies, GMO Mosquitoes

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First, the good news: releasing genetically-modified medflies and mosquitoes may mean fewer crop failures; and fewer deaths from malaria.

Now, the not-so-good news: I'm pretty sure some folks won't think it's good news....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Pig Organs, Ancient Immigrants

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We're years away from safe pig-to-human organ transplants: but scientists using CRISPR gene editing tech are working toward that goal.

Other scientists are discovering a chapter of humanity's family history: Eurasian immigrants returning to Africa, when the Shang dynasty and Egyptian Empire collapsed.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Kidneys, Experiments, and Ethics

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Kidney failure isn't always fatal these days. Hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis can keep someone alive until a transplant donor shows up. Kidney problems kill about a million folks each year.

It's not the leading cause of death for my 7,250,000,000-plus neighbors, but that's still a lot of deaths.

Scientists in Japan grew working kidneys in rats and pigs. We're years away from grow-your-own kidneys for patients: but I think that's coming.

Meanwhile, a scientist in England wants permission to collect people for genetic experiments. The Francis Crick Institute, Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, and BBC News describe the proposal more discretely.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mutant Cows, Mass Migrations, and a Brain Gene

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Bovine tuberculosis may not be a big problem, if Ministry of Agriculture in Northwest A&F University, Yangling, research pays off.

Meanwhile, we may be learning who made Europe look and sound the way it does today: and scientists at the Max Plank Institute discovered how a uniquely-human gene helps our brains grow....

I've seen attitudes toward science and technology shift, quite a bit. I grew up when quite a few folks still thought human ingenuity would solve all our problems: or at least make "the future" a magical place to live....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

DNA, Babies, Life, and Death

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DNA evidence in a court case isn't new: but deer DNA in a poaching trial is.

Less than two decades after a cloned sheep's birth, British Members of Parliament okayed human cloning: using DNA from three people.

Scientists who think this is a good idea may be right: at least for some versions of the new tech.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mutant Malaria, Designer Babies and Ethics

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Malaria that's resistant to a very successful anti-malaria drug is spreading. The good news is that scientists know where this particular strain's immunity came from.

Other scientists say that "society needs to be prepared" for designer babies, and that "it is time for a serious public debate on the issue."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Birthright

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This story was posted in 2010, in another blog:
"Birthright"
Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (February 19, 2010)

Despite the stories you've seen, there never were very many Voini. Like any alter, each Voin was expensive to grow.

Also, unlike the Gung Yan, Voini had earned an unpleasant reputation during the recent wars.

Between limited production, judgments after the Suspension and 'Voin hunts,' there are now perhaps only a few dozen surviving Voini.

Perhaps it is best this way....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

DNA Test Hype; and Studying Life's Origins

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A company whose DNA test was banned by the FDA is back: in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, scientists are learning that complex organic compounds may be forming in Titan's atmosphere: another piece to the puzzle of how life began. Another team found that up to half of Earth's water came from interstellar space.

Finally, a quick look at astrobiology and assumptions about intelligent life in the universe....

...We've known that traits are inherited for a thousand generations, maybe more, and applied that knowledge.

The deal Jacob made with Laban in Genesis 30:17-3:13 at least hints that Jacob knew how to make sure many dark sheep and spotted or speckled goats were born....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Regeneration: Getting Closer to Growing Lost Organs

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Too many folks die, waiting for a compatible donor organ. We can't coax a patient's body into growing a new heart or kidney: yet.

But we can build made-to-order bladders, and scientists have grown a new thymus: inside a mouse. It's a first step....

...If starfish and some mice can regenerate complete missing parts: why can't we?

Right now, we don't know. Not for sure. It probably has something to do with our immune system, and the way our bodies deal with injury....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Neurosynaptic Cores and Retinal Implants: Getting a Grip About Tech

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IBM's neurosynaptic cores may not show up in home computers for years. Their circuits emulate a brain's neural circuits: and require an entirely new sort of software.

Retinal implants are another matter. Thanks to new tech, several folks who would have been blind can see: a little....

..."Metropolis," Tsukumogami, and the Roomba Revolution that Wasn't
The inventor Rotwang in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" is more 'evil wizard' than 'mad scientist:' my opinion. It's still a good movie: but not, I think, a particularly realistic look at what we'll see in 2026.

Rotwang's maschinenmensch looked more like the human she was built to impersonate after a high-tech makeover, but even without upholstery she was remarkably — human....

But so far, artificial intelligence has been quite obviously "artificial:" and emphatically not up to the task of leading a Roomba revolution.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.