Advances in embryology, genetics, and regenerative medicine regularly attract attention from scientists, scholars, journalists, and policymakers, yet implications of these advances may be broader than commonly supposed. Laboratories culturing human embryos, editing human genes, and creating human-animal chimeras have been working along lines that are now becoming intertwined. Embryogenic methods are weaving traditional in vivo and in vitro distinctions into a new“in vivitro” (in life in glass) fabric. These and other methods known to be in use or thought to be in development promise soon to bring society to startling choices and discomfiting predicaments, all in a global effort to supply reliably rejuvenating stem cells, to grow immunologically non-provocative replacement organs, and to prevent, treat, cure, or even someday eradicate diseases having genetic or epigenetic mechanisms. With humanity's human-engineering era now begun, procedural prohibitions, funding restrictions, institutional controls, and transparency rules are proving ineffective, and business incentives are migrating into the most basic life-sciences inquiries, wherein lie huge biomedical potentials and bioethical risks. Rights, health, and heritage are coming into play with bioethical presumptions and formal protections urgently needing reassessment.
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Provocative trends in embryology, genetics, and regenerative medicine
Vol. 35 • No. 2