There is a good reason. I am working in a neurobiology lab at the local university. We are researching ways to stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
I love it. After a decade of doom and gloom writing about the out-of-control biotechnology sector, I needed a change. One where I was actively contributing to positive research.
I haven’t totally abandoned writing though. Here is a teaser from my latest at the National Catholic Register:
I’ve spent the last decade writing and speaking about the remarkable and terrifying world of biotechnology from a Catholic perspective. Many times I’ve felt like Frodo Baggins at the gates of Mordor, looking upon Mt. Doom with despair and dread.
I’ve never felt this more acutely than in the past few months. A series of recent headlines have renewed my sense of hopelessness in the face of the never-ending assault on the dignity of human life by modern biotechnology.
The gloom began to settle when it was revealed that a Swedish scientist is editing the DNA of healthy human embryos. Fredrik Lanner, a developmental biologist, is using a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR to disable some genes in healthy human embryos to see how those genes affect development. He and his team are intentionally modifying otherwise healthy IVF embryos so they cannot develop properly.
An in-depth story by NPR reveals that while the reporter was observing the genetic manipulation of five donated IVF embryos, one didn’t survive the thawing process and one perished after being injected with the experimental gene-editing tool. Of the three who survived, one continued to divide, but not for long. All of the embryos were to be destroyed before they are 15 days old, as the law in Sweden dictates. Lanner insists that his research is critical to understanding human development, which, in turn, will shed light on infertility and disease.
Lanner’s work makes many ethicists and scientists extremely nervous. Jennifer Doudna, the co-inventor of CRISPR, along with other heavy-hitting scientists, have called for a voluntary moratorium on any editing of human embryos for fear that it will lead to the creation of genetically modified children. Marcy Darnovsky, of the left-leaning Center for Genetics and Society, explains why she and her group have been so vocal in their opposition to the modification of human embryos. She told NPR: “The production of genetically modified human embryos is actually quite dangerous. … When you’re editing the genes of human embryos, that means you’re changing the genes of every cell in the bodies of every offspring, every future generation of that human being. So these are permanent and probably irreversible changes that we just don’t know what they would mean.”
Then came the revelation that a U.S. doctor traveled to Mexico to create the first baby intentionally engineered to have three genetic parents.
Rebecca Taylor rarely blogs at Mary Meets Dolly