"What are the moral implications of genome editing?" is the question that has been posed by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics regarding the new CRISPR-Cas9 mediated germ-line genome editing technique, which allows targeted modification of DNA sequences at the level of the germ-line, i.e. gametes (eggs and sperm).
A letter published online in the Lancet on Oct. 10, by a distinguished group of scientists, ethicists and physicians from all over the world, makes an urgent plea for embarking on research for experimental Ebola treatments that would not randomize patients to a control arm that provides only conventional care or conventional care along with a placebo.
The need for these drugs is greatest in the countries where the epidemic is raging. Their residents come first. Because clinical trials for safety and efficacy can be carried out only in such countries, even the "compassionate use" of an unproven drug in severely limited supply should be granted first to inhabitants of the nations that have been most severely affected.
The notoriety of the Tuskegee syphilis study is unparalleled in the field of bioethics. Last week marked the 42nd anniversary of the horrific experiment's termination, and many people took the opportunity to recall Tuskegee and examine its relevance to the treatment of human research subjects today.