Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues
In September 2016 the Council began an inquiry into ethical issues raised by genome editing as an emerging biomedical technology that could influence inherited characteristics in human beings.
The potential development of genome editing applications in human reproduction was one of the areas identified as requiring urgent ethical scrutiny in our 2016 report Genome editing: an ethical review.
Non-invasive prenatal testing
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a technique that can be used to test a fetus for genetic conditions and variations, such as Down’s syndrome. It involves taking a blood sample from the pregnant woman at around 9 or 10 weeks of pregnancy. NIPT is more accurate than some other screening tests, it carries no risk of miscarriage and, in some circumstances, NIPT can provide earlier results than current screening and diagnostic tests.
This report considers, at this early stage of its use, how NIPT could change the way we view pregnancy, disability and difference, and what the wider consequences of its increasing use might be.
Genome editing techniques such as the CRISPR-Cas9 system are transforming many areas of biological research.
Most uses of genome editing have so far been in scientific research – for example to investigate models of human disease. However, given that genome editing has the potential to alter any DNA sequence, whether in a bacterium, plant, animal or human being, it has an almost limitless range of possible applications in living things. If you want to find out more about genome editing, read our brief guide.
We are undertaking an ongoing programme of work on genome editing, split into three strands:
- Genome editing: an ethical review – published in 2016
- Genome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues – published in July 2018
- Genome editing and livestock – to begin in 2018
There has been increasing demand for invasive cosmetic procedures in the UK, prompting questions about potential risks to users and the lack of regulation and professional standards in this area.
This report explores ethical issues in cosmetic procedures with a particular focus on the role and responsibilities of health and scientific professionals and others in responding to demand for invasive non-reconstructive procedures that aim to enhance or normalise appearance.
Research in global health emergencies
Recent global health emergencies have highlighted how uncertainties about what is ethically acceptable during emergencies can impede progress of potentially valuable research, or alternatively contribute to the risks of unethical practice passing undetected.
This project will explore how research may be conducted ethically in global health emergencies.
Bioethics briefing notes
Bioethics briefing notes are a different type of output from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Each briefing note will focus on new scientific and medical developments and the ethical and social issues raised around a particular topic.
We are planning further briefing notes to be published this year. These will be produced alongside our two in-depth inquiries on genome editing and the ethics of research in global health emergencies. These projects will result in detailed reports with policy recommendations.
Genome editing and human reproductionGenome editing and human reproduction: social and ethical issues
Non-invasive prenatal testingNon-invasive prenatal testing
Genome editingGenome editing
Cosmetic proceduresCosmetic procedures
Research in global health emergenciesResearch in global health emergencies
Bioethics briefing notesBioethics briefing notes