Ethics of Revealing the Fetal Genome


The double helix and the double-edged sword. Researchers have unveiled a new a way to determine the entire DNA blueprint of a fetus without disturbing its development. It is a remarkable diagnostic tool full of potential and an ethical landmine... giving parents details on thousands of genetic diseases or disorders and confronting them with decisions they might never have thought they'd have to make.

Part Two of The Current

Ethics of Revealing the Fetal Genome - Jay Shendure

Researchers at the University of Washington made international headlines last week when they published a paper about an advancement that could allow thousands of genetic diseases and disorders to be detected, prenatally. Even before a baby is completely built, its parents can obtain a copy of its DNA blueprint.

The research raises a host of medical, social and ethical dilemmas. But first, to explain this latest technique in genetic screening, we were joined by Jay Shendure.

He supervised the research team and is associate professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington. He was in Seattle this morning.

Ethics of Revealing the Fetal Genome - Panel

To talk about the social and ethical implications of your research, we were joined by two other guests. David Wright is a professor of history at McGill University and the author of Downs: The History of a Disability. He was in Montreal.

Francoise Baylis is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University. She was in Halifax.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

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