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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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英検に出やすいトピック

 


遺伝子編集できるCRISPR/Cas9はこのブログでも取り上げましたが、やはりというか、human embryoでの扱いについて議論になりそうです。勝手な予想ですが、賛否の分かれるトピックは試験に出しやすそうです。

先週イギリスの研究者が当局に対して研究許可を出したことがNatureで取り上げられていました。

UK scientists apply for licence to edit genes in human embryos
Team from London's Francis Crick Institute wants permit to use CRISPR/Cas9 technology in basic research.
Daniel Cressey, Alison Abbott& Heidi Ledford
18 September 2015

Scientists in London have asked for permission to edit the genomes of human embryos — a request that could lead to the world’s first approval of such research by a national regulatory body.

イギリスは遺伝子編集は違法ですが、許可を得れば研究することができるそうです。今年4月には中国で遺伝子編集はすでに実施されて大きな議論となっているようです。

Editing the genomes of human embryos for a therapeutic use — for example, to eradicate a genetic disease — is illegal in the United Kingdom, but research work is possible under licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The body, which regulates fertility treatment and embryo research, has confirmed that it has received its first application for a gene-editing licence using CRISPR/Cas9. “It will be considered in due course,” the HFEA said.

In April this year, Nature revealed that a Chinese team had, for the first time, reported using the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to edit the genomes of human embryos. The work, led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, involved attempts to modify the gene underlying the blood disorder β-thalassaemia. The research used non-viable embryos that could not result in a live birth, but nonetheless caused huge controversy.


この中国の動きを受けて各国が反応を示しているようですが、米国は資金援助を禁止しているものの、イギリスは研究意義を認めている感じで、各国ばらつきがあるようです。12月に米国、英国、中国が集まって方向性について議論する予定だとあります。注目ですね。

Regulatory debate
Huang’s team's April report spawned a flurry of scientific and policy meetings and statements as governments and policy experts wrestled with how or whether to draw the line on gene editing in human embryos.

Shortly after the work was published, the US National Institutes of Health reaffirmed its ban on funding gene-editing research in human embryos — a ban that would likely also apply to non-viable embryos, it said.

But on 2 September, five UK research organizations — including the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council — issued a statement urging the continued use of CRISPR/Cas9 in research, even in human embryos when ethically justifiable and legal.

A week later, a network of stem-cell researchers, bioethicists and policy experts called the Hinxton Group, said that after meetings in Manchester, UK, they had concluded that research involving genome editing in human embryos has "tremendous value to basic research".

And on 14 September, Britain's Royal Society and the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced that they would join forces with the US National Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine to host a summit in December on germline editing (genetic changes to embryos, sperm and eggs).


研究所はプレスリリースを出しているようで、以下がその書き出しです。TOEIC的には絶対に出ないトピックですが、構成や書き方はTOEIC的にも参考にできます。

Statement from the Francis Crick Institute on the HFEA application for use of genome editing techniques on human embryos
18 September 2015
Scientists working at The Francis Crick Institute (the Crick) in London have applied to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to use new "genome editing" techniques on human embryos.
Should the licence application be successful, the aim of the research, led by Dr Kathy Niakan, a group leader at the Crick, is to understand the genes human embryos need to develop successfully.
The work carried out at the Crick will be for research purposes and will not have a clinical application. However, the knowledge acquired from the research will be very important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops. This knowledge may improve embryo development after in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and might provide better clinical treatments for infertility.


その少し前にワシントンポストで一時禁止を訴えるOpEdが出ていました。アメリカの方が保守的な反応を示していることが伺えますね。書き出しは4月の中国でのものでした。

Why there’s an urgent need for a moratorium on gene editing
By Vivek Wadhwa September 8

In April 2015, a paper by Chinese scientists about their attempts to edit the DNA of a human embryo rocked the scientific world and set off a furious debate. Leading scientists warned that altering the human germ line without studying the consequences could have horrific consequences. Geneticists with good intentions could mistakenly engineer changes in DNA that generate dangerous mutations and cause painful deaths. Scientists — and countries — with less noble intentions could again try to build a race of superhumans.

Human DNA is, however, merely one of many commercial targets of ethical concern. The DNA of every single organism — every plant, every animal, every bacterium — is now fair game for genetic manipulation. We are entering an age of backyard synthetic biology that should worry everybody. And it is coming about because of CRISPRs: clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.


ライターの懸念点を挙げている部分が以下です。

Such a scenario could arise through good intent. But in the hands of evil biohackers, these powerful and simple tools are a cause for alarm. A smart biohacker could alter the influenza genome, for example, to make it more potent, setting off an epidemic that kills hundreds of millions of people. Though a nuclear weapon can cause tremendous long-lasting damage, the ultimate biological doomsday machine is bacteria, because they can spread so quickly and quietly.

No one is prepared for an era when editing DNA is as easy as editing a Microsoft Word document. The government does not have any regulations on editing human DNA. The ethical concerns have not been fleshed out. There is no centralized risk-management inventory, listing which labs are doing what with CRISPR. It’s all rather terrifying.


医療が絡むといろいろな思惑も絡むので政治的にもドロドロしそうですね。。。

雑誌Natureといえば論文しか載っていないイメージがありますが、News in Focusのセクションは科学界の現状を知ることができるのでオススメです。
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Yuta

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