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By Ronald Cole-Turner

Students talk about the genetic amendment of embryonic cells from the viewpoints of conventional Jewish and Christian educating, contemplating either the attainable healing advantages of this know-how and ethical matters approximately its implementation.

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Extra info for Design and Destiny: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Human Germline Modification (Basic Bioethics)

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This approach will likely require an intermediary step involving human embryonic stem cells. It has been shown that gene targeting can be used to produce precise genetic modifications of human embryonic stem cells. 40 The next step is to use these genetically modified stem cells to produce the precursors of sperm or oocytes. 41 If this technique can be applied to human beings, it may be possible to modify stem cells and from them produce eggs or sperm that carry the modification. From that point it would be relatively easy to create embryos with the genetic change.

In 1990, the first somatic cell gene modification was attempted, and since then hundreds of experiments have been conducted involving thousands of patients. The goal typically is to treat a genetic disease by modifying the DNA that causes it. Results so far have been disappointing, with little success and a few wellpublicized individual tragedies that were setbacks for the whole field. Human germline modification, by contrast, targets the germline cells. Techniques If germline cells are the target, what are the techniques that might be used to modify their DNA?

If God wanted all Jewish boys circumcised, the rabbis ask, why did He not create them that way? 30 We are then not only permitted, but mandated to find ways to bend God’s world to God’s purposes and ours—as long, again, as we preserve God’s world in the process. Just because we can do something, however, does not automatically mean that we ought to do it. To determine whether we should, we must measure its effects against Judaism’s broader picture of our own good and that of God’s world. Thus technology in and of itself is not good or bad, it depends upon how we use it.

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