Meeting May 3, 2017

Genes and Society in the News:

Articles for Discussion:

Discussion Points:

  • Germline Gene Therapy versus Somatic Gene Therapy exists as a clear ethical distinction.
  • Yet, mitochondrial donation techniques that would affect germline seemingly not considered to cross this line.
  •  Group agreed that this does constitute a germline therapy and recognize the possibility of mitochondrial/genome incompatibility.  This incompatibility is not well understood if it is an issue.  Do mitochondria genomes need to be adaptable as each generation a paternal genome is?
  •  UK terminology calling it “mitochondrial donation” may have been purposeful to keep within the rule banning germline modification.
  •  Could “mitochondrial donation” be the wedge to begin germline therapy? “Naturally occurring” may be perceived as better. So, if you modified a mitochondrial genome through recombinant DNA techniques, would this be less well received?
  •  Articles point out that there is a less clear ethical boundary between medical therapy and enhancement than the germline/somatic distinction.
  •  Canadian experiment reflects the autologous mt donation used in which stem cells in ovary are used to refresh the in eggs, increasing IVF success.
  •  NAS NAM reports do allow germline clinical research trials only for compelling purposes of treating or preventing serious disease.  Not a prohibition.  Would assume that Somatic gene therapies and PGD were not viable options. 

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