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Showing posts with label biology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biology. Show all posts

Thursday, November 4, 2021

BU journal features Enríquez book on genome editing

Tomorrow, Friday, November 5, beginning at 10 a.m., the Boston University Law Review Online hosts an online symposium on the book, Rewriting Nature: The Future of Genome Editing and How to Bridge the Gap Between Law and Science.

The symposium features author Paul Enríquez, a law student of mine once upon a long time ago.  Dr. Enríquez's fascinating book was featured here on The Savory Tort in July. Here is the symposium précis (which is drawn from the book jacket):

History will mark the twenty-first century as the dawn of the age of precise genetic manipulation. Breakthroughs in genome editing are poised to enable humankind to fundamentally transform life on Earth. Those familiar with genome editing understand its potential to revolutionize civilization in ways that surpass the impact of the discovery of electricity and the development of gunpowder, the atomic bomb, or the Internet. Significant questions regarding how society should promote or hinder genome editing loom large in the horizon. And it is up to humans to decide the fate of this powerful technology. Please join the Boston University Law Review Online for a virtual and thought-provoking, interdisciplinary symposium on Rewriting Nature: The Future of Genome Editing and How to Bridge the Gap Between Law and Science (... 2021) to discuss the complex legal, scientific, policy, ethical, political, economic, and social issues concerning this emerging technology.

The book is available from Cambridge University Press and popular retailers.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Genetic manipulation will transform humankind; Enríquez book aims to keep law, science in pace

Paul Enríquez, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D. (LinkedIn, SSRN) has published a must-have book for readers interested in the cutting-edge juncture of law and science.  A superb writer, Dr. Enríquez has geared the book for general audiences, while also offering plenty of thought-provoking flesh for lawyers and scientists alike to sink their teeth into.  And that's before science accidentally turns us into zombies.

Here is the précis of Rewriting Nature: The Future of Genome Editing and How to Bridge the Gap Between Law and Science from Cambridge University Press (2021).

History will mark the twenty-first century as the dawn of the age of precise genetic manipulation. Breakthroughs in genome editing are poised to enable humankind to fundamentally transform life on Earth. Those familiar with genome editing understand its potential to revolutionize civilization in ways that surpass the impact of the discovery of electricity and the development of gunpowder, the atomic bomb, or the Internet. Significant questions regarding how society should promote or hinder genome editing loom large in the horizon. And it is up to humans to decide the fate of this powerful technology. Rewriting Nature is a compelling, thought-provoking interdisciplinary exploration of the law, science, and policy of genome editing. The book guides readers through complex legal, scientific, ethical, political, economic, and social issues concerning this emerging technology, and challenges the conventional false dichotomy often associated with science and law, which contributes to a growing divide between both fields.

Besides being a family friend, Dr. Enríquez was, many moons ago, a student in one of my law classes: a rather impertinent fact I mention only to boast.  In truth, the student already had surpassed the mentor.  Nevertheless, he generously asked my feedback on some points of constitutional law for this book.  So I weaseled my way into the acknowledgments, and you can blame me if anything is wrong in the relevant chapter.

Here is the impressive About the Author:

Paul Enríquez, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is an intellectual property attorney and scientist who researches and writes at the intersection of law, science, and policy. He holds doctoral degrees in law and structural and molecular biochemistry. His research on law, science, and technology, genome editing, biochemistry, and the regulation of biotechnology, has been published in numerous scientific, legal, and popular-media publications, and has been presented at national and international conferences. He currently serves as a judicial clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Buy yours now in hardback, paperback, or Kindle from Amazon.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Brood X cicadas taste terrible, but teach life lessons

A Brood X cicada that emerged early, in 2017
(Flickr by Katja Schulz CC BY 2.0)
If you're like me, the emergence of Brood X cicadas on the mid-Atlantic American seaboard induces more anxiety than is healthy.

I met Brood X face to face only once, when I was a teenager in Baltimore, Md., in 1987.  Every 17 years, the big red-eyed bugs realize that heaven is a place on earth, not under it, and they rise up with a screeching rhythm that's gonna get you.  Unlike locusts, cicadas are clumsy fliers and seem oblivious to humans as a threat.  So simply going outside invites cicadas to crash into your nicest denim jacket.

This time, the cicadas have failed to anticipate a new human threat.  People are popping cicadas onto the grill for purportedly finger-licking-worthy indulgence.  

Fried cicadas in China, 2013
(Flickr by Sharon Hahn Darlin, who didn't eat them, CC BY 2.0)
The appeal escapes me.  Persons of ordinary sensibilities are horrified by cicadas.  CBS News aptly labeled a story on Brood X, "Warning: Graphic images."  Haley Weiss is a normal person.  She wrote for The Atlantic:

Nowhere was that shellfish flavor more evident than in the oven-roasted cicada, though I was quickly distracted from that thought by the realization that the bug had exploded in my mouth like a Gusher. My tongue awash in bug guts, I reconsidered all the choices I’d made in my life that had brought me to that moment.

Oh, heads up, the FDA warns not to eat cicadas if you're allergic to shrimp.  Because that makes sense.

Well, another voice in the inexplicable camp of cicada supporters is my uncle, Tom Peri, a Baltimore biology teacher with a new video series about Brood X.  In four short installments, Buggin' Out with Mr. Peri is now available on Facebook from Notre Dame Preparatory School (NDP).  Each short installment teaches us, as Mr. Peri puts it, that cicadas "aren't the monsters you think they're going to be."  In episode 1, Mr. Peri promises us life lessons to be learned from the humble cicada, such as, "you're at your best when you're rising from a low point." 

Give Buggin' Out a try (ep. 1, 2, 3, 4), and especially share it with kids.  Maybe we can condition young minds to think differently from mine.  Then, in 2038, our only anxiety will be over which cicada food truck to choose.

An NDP upper-level science teacher with decades of classroom experience, Tom Peri won a prestigious Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award from the National Catholic Educational Association in 2018.  He is a former headmaster of St. John’s Prospect Hall and Towson Catholic High School.

Monday, July 15, 2019

'Genetically modified humans are among us'

An alum of my constitutional law class, Paul Enríquez, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.—Structural and Molecular Biochemistry, is doing some stellar academic work at the cutting edge of genetic science and law and policy.  He privileged me with a sneak peak at his latest contribution to the legal literature, now available on SSRN, Editing Humanity: On the Precise Manipulation of DNA in Human Embryos, forthcoming in 97 N.C. L. Rev. Here is the abstract:

Genetically modified humans are among us. Emerging technologies for genome editing have launched humanity into the uncharted territory of modifying the human germline—namely, the reproductive cells and embryos that carry our genetic ancestry. Reports of the first live births of humans with edited genomes in China recently confirmed that the power to manipulate our genes at an embryonic stage is no longer theoretical. In the wake of enormous scientific progress, questions regarding how the law will treat this technological breakthrough abound.

This Article examines the legality of human genome editing, specifically germline genome editing (“GGE”), from administrative and constitutional law perspectives. It argues that the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA” or “Agency”) forbearance in claiming jurisdiction over GGE is creating a perilous void for an emerging field of law. At the same time, the contemporary de facto legislative ban on GGE clinical applications, which categorically prohibits the Agency from evaluating the safety and efficacy of any investigational new drug or biological product application derived from the technology, is unnecessary and creates more societal costs than benefits. On a broad scale, the ban embodies poor public policy because it prevents the FDA from exercising jurisdiction over matters that constitute extensions of the Agency’s traditional regulatory scope. An analysis of the law reveals salient regulatory gaps that could be viewed as rendering some types of GGE beyond the FDA’s regulatory reach. Notwithstanding those gaps, this Article argues that the FDA can work within the existing statutory framework to cure regulatory deficits and promulgate rules to regulate the technology and, thus, urges the FDA to exercise that jurisdiction. This Article ultimately demonstrates how law and policy converge into a proposed new regulatory paradigm for human GGE that flows from the D.C. Circuit’s ruling in United States v. Regenerative Sciences, LLC, which held that specific stem cell mixtures can be regulated as drugs or biological products within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Service Act.

This Article further contends that efforts to ban GGE technologies cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny in the long run because they impinge on a cognizable fundamental right that protects select uses of GGE. This fundamental right flows from jurisprudence in the areas of procreative, parental, and—to some extent—privacy rights, but it is not absolute. The Article presents an interpretive model for this body of jurisprudence in the GGE context, which promotes extrapolation of applicable legal principles that can guide and promote coherent public policy. Launching from this jurisprudential departing point, this Article introduces a novel legal- and science-based normative framework to delineate primary limits for a right to perform GGE based upon four distinct categories: (1) therapeutic uses to remedy disease; (2) prophylactic purposes, which may or may not be therapeutic; (3) cosmetic or enhancement purposes; and (4) uses involving modification of traits that raise concerns of discrimination already prohibited by the law. This conceptual and structural approach outlines a legal blueprint for GGE clinical interventions, but more importantly it circumvents problems that dominate the existing literature, which arise from the conventional tendency to group GGE applications into therapeutic uses on one hand, and enhancements on the other.