Direct to Consumer Genetic Testing

June 12, 2013
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report about Personalised Healthcare includes consideration of DTC Genetic Testing

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics report about Personalised Healthcare includes consideration of DTC Genetic Testing

The fall in the cost of DNA sequencing has opened the door to providing an individual with genetic information on such issues as paternity and the risk of developing or passing on a particular genetic disease. Some services are available via formal channels, but there is also a burgeoning market in direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales of genetic information and the associated interpretation of that data.

This video, made by second year students at the University of Leicester, looks at some of the ethical issues arising from the availability of personal genetic data direct from commercial companies.

The following link offer more details about: Teaching resources using the Nuffield report on medical profiling

You may also be interested in the post Is there a gene for oversimplistic analysis? from our sister site Journal of the Left-handed Biochemist.

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Healthcare Rationing

June 12, 2013

It is a sad reality of any publically-funded heath service that there is always more that could be done if only there were sufficient finances. This short video by Medical students at the University of Leicester, raises some of the different tensions facing those who need to make decisions about the allocation of resources.


Synthetic Biology

June 12, 2013

This year’s winner of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ Box Office Bioethics video competition was produced by Marylka Griffiths from the University of Warwick.


 

For more on the topic, please see this Bioethicsbytes review of Horizon: Playing God.


Three-parent IVF and Mitochondrial Diseases

June 12, 2013
The report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics was produced in 2012

The report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics was produced in 2012

In the past year, two major reports have been published concerning the ethics of “three-parent IVF”, in which a donated egg would be used to overcome disease arising from the small amount of genetic material found within mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell.

The first report Novel techniques for the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disorders: an ethical review was produced by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (June 2012) – see summary of key findings.

In March 2013 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published their Advice to Government on Mitochondria replacement.

Both reports were largely in favour of the development. For examples of arguments against the technique see, for example, this post by the Christian Medical Fellowship.

A short animated video on the topic has been produced by second year students at the University of Leicester.


DNA databases

June 12, 2013

For many years, the UK has utilised a National DNA database. This is a powerful tool in crime-fighting but is ethically controversial. The recent US Supreme Court decision (Maryland v King) rehearses some of these issues in an American context (see various posts on the Stanford Law and Biosciences blog for further reflection on the ramifications of the Supreme Court case).

The following video, which included an interview with DNA fingerprinting pioneer Sir Alec Jeffreys, was produced by second year students at the University of Leicester.

Users of Bioethicsbytes interested in teaching about the ethics of DNA databases might also be interested the following posts:


Gene therapy

June 12, 2013

Wouldn’t it be great if disease caused by possession of a faulty gene could be treated at the genetic level rather than simply influencing the symptoms? Despite some initial success, the approach has proven harder to achieve in practice than was originally envisaged.

This short video on the topic was produced by second year undergraduates at the University of Leicester.

Previous Bioethicsbytes posts on the same theme please see the Categories menu to the right. Posts include:


Fat Family Tree

June 7, 2013

Here at BioethicsBytes we aim to recommend good clips from TV programmes that might be useful in discussing ethics associated with biology and biomedicine. We don’t usually have time to offer any warnings against watching particular programmes. One very disappointing recent pseudo-documentary was Channel 4’s offering Fat Family Tree (First broadcast 23rd May 2013, TRILT code: 03163CBC). We had been promised insight into “whether unlocking the secrets of families’ genes can help provide an answer to weight problems” with the participants taking “a unique DNA test to find out if the genes they have inherited could help explain their weight problems”.

Unfortunately, the reality was very superficial. Luckily for me, Linda Wijlaars over at the Progress Educational Trust’s BioNews has already written an excellent harsh-but-fair critique of the show.