Engineering the Human Germline: An Exploration of the Science and Ethics of Altering the Genes We Pass to Our Children

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9780195133028: Engineering the Human Germline: An Exploration of the Science and Ethics of Altering the Genes We Pass to Our Children

This book explores the many prospects, challenges and ethical questions that surround the engineering of our reproductive cells. It is an accessible, three-part examination, moving from focused, realistic assessments of the promise and problems for this advancing technology to a section of short essays on the implications of our technological ability. Also included is a panel discussion in which leading scientists, ethicists, and public policy workers give voice to their thoughts and concerns regarding our impending genetic technologies. Many world leaders in these fields, including Leroy Hood, French Anderson, Mario Capecchi, Daniel Koshland, Michael Rose, Lee Silver, and James Watson, have contributed to this volume, providing the essential elements of the debate over germline engineering. If you have ever pondered the question: "Would I be willing to genetically alter my own child-to-be, given a safe, reliable technology, offering a tempting possibility?", this book will be an indispensable guide.

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About the Author:

Gregory Stock is at UCLA Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life. John Campbell is at UCLA School of Medicine.

Review:


"It is unique among books published on recent genetic advancements and their impact on society. First, it is one of only a few on this controversial topic; and second, it contains opinions not only for prominent researchers, but also for ethicists and policy makers."--Annals, March 2001


"A short, readable, thought-provoking book that discusses in nontechnical terms the future of humankind in an age of genetic engineering and should be read by anyone who wishes to participate in a public discourse that will shape the future....Essays by 17 authors [capture] a broad spectrum of expertise and opinion."--The New England Journal of Medicine


"Three approaches to looking at the possibilities and dangers of manipulating genes in reproductive cells to alter both immediate patients and their offspring. First, seven scientists explain to general readers the state of the science and technology, distinguishing what is possible from what is unlikely or impossible. Then they are joined by an ethicist, a public policy specialist, and Nobel-laureate James Watson for a lively panel discussion. Finally a collection of short essays by scientists, ethicists, lawyers, theologians, and public-policy makers offer a wide range of views."--SciTech Book News


"This is a short, readable, thought-provoking book that discusses in non-technical terms the future of humankind in the age of genetic engineering and should be read by anyone who wishes to participate in a public discourse that will shape the future. It is interesting to see the shift in opinion within the scientific community, which previously discounted germ-line therapy, eugenics, and cloning as unachievable and morally suspect. With familiarity, increased understanding, and discussion, many now see these forms of technology as inevitable, and most of the contributors to this book are willing to reconsider them and some even to defend them. The book is based on a 1998 symposium and is supplemented with short essays by 17 authors who represent a broad spectrum of expertise and opinion. The organization allows the reader to reach a relatively painless understanding of the technical and societal issues involved." - George Cunningham, MD, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 343, No. 19


"Paints a futuristic picture of the 'practical aspects' of genome manipulation."--Nature


"The relegation of sex from being procreational to purely recreational may be premature, but Gregory Stock, one of the editors of this volume, believes that the production of designer babies will eventually take over from normal reproduction. Altering the human genome in a permanently heritable manner ... is highly controversial, and in many countries it is prohibited. As with most controversial subjects, though, much can be gained from a thorough discussion of the possible applications, both now and, more speculatively, in the future. This volume is the record of a symposium held at the University of California at Los Angeles in March 1998. It was hosted by Stock ... Technology and Society, and his fellow editor John Campbell ... The participants, mostly drawn from US academic institutions, fall into three categories, eminent practising scientists; panelists, including James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA; and commentators--scientists, ethicists and theologians."--Nature


"Attempts to correct human diseases by inserting engineered genes into somatic, or body, cells began nearly a decade ago. In contrast, the idea of introducing manipulated genes into germline, or sex, cells has generally been taboo, since this would alter the genetic makeup of future generations. Unfortunately, somatic cell gene therapy has so far proved frustrating, and therefore in 1998 the editors convened the first major public forum to discuss the prospects of human germline gene therapy--a seemingly more straightforward approach to curing genetic disease. ... These papers balance the generally favorable statements for human germline engineering presented in the first two sections and are especially useful in appreciating the complexity and broad implications of this potential technology. General readers; lower-division undergraduates."--Choice


"This is an interesting, informative and often unsettling look at current and future genetic manipulation. Could the same techniques used for gene therapy be used to enhance traits? This text takes us further. Although the participants are predominantly American, an international perspective is attempted. The reader is left pondering the question presented to the participants: If you could do so safely, would you use an artificial chromosome to extend the lifespan of your child?" -- Laura T. Arbour, MD, Clin Invest Med, Vol 23, No 6, Dec 2000


"This lively and frank analysis of germline genetic manipulations of reproductive cells fascinates by virtue of the fact that it constitues one of the first in-depth analyses of the realistic possibilities and problems of this technology... replete with academicians...who lay the ground work for a better understanding of "genetic engineering." No uniformity of approach or ideas emerges, a true reflection of the controversial nature but also of the scientific uncertainty still surrounding this technology. The second part of the book is livelier, its debate format slipping out of the arena of typical "pros and cons" arguments to reveal the personal insights and values of the aforementioned. Discussion throughout is frank and open. The ethical evaluation of the purposes and implications of germline engineering lies in the careful, cautious, and courageous discernment of its purposes and implications as found in this book." -- Bartha Maria Knoppers, Nature Biotechnology, Vol 18, Oct 2000


"Over the past years new reproductive and molecular technologies, concurrent with progress in the human genome project, have provided a scientific foundation for speculation about manipulation of the human genome. . .In an apparent attempt to address our mixed feelings about human genetic manipulation, the present book is published. This three part volume tries to address our state of scientific progress in germ-line genetic modification."--Heredity Journal


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