The Ethics Blog

A blog from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

Tag: personalized medicine

How about personally optimized treatment?

It is well known that patients who are asked to participate in cancer trials are tempted by the therapeutic misconception. They believe they are offered a newer and better treatment, when in fact it is about research into an untested treatment. When researchers use genetic tests to develop personalized oncology, even more misconceptions can arise. […]

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing: empowering people to hurt themselves?

There are two tempting pictures of the human. One is that we (ideally) are autonomous individuals who make rational choices on the basis of information. The other picture is that our individuality is coded in our DNA. These pictures work in tandem in the marketing of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The website of the personal genomics […]

Being human; representing life

A new article reconsiders Henrietta Lacks and the immortal HeLa cells that were obtained from her rare cancer tumor in the 1950s; cells that still replicate and are used in biomedical laboratories all over the world: “Representing life as opposed to being: the bio-objectification process of the HeLa cells and its relation to personalized medicine” The […]

Commercial gene tests and incidental findings

I read Arthur Caplan’s criticism of the personalized gene tests that some companies insist we must buy to gain control over our future health. I could not help wondering if his criticism is applicable also to the idea that biobanks should inform research participants about incidental findings about their genes. Caplan rejects the crystal ball […]

How unspecific is broad consent?

In response to an informative article on personalized medicine and biobanking in Nature Biotechnology, a recent letter to the Editor defends broad consent for biobanking. The three letter writers emphasize the patient and donor perspective: “…patient donors actually express concern that study-specific consent can be burdensome and impede research.” Given these donors’ desire to give so-called broad […]

Collection of papers brings out neglected aspect of ethics

If you wrestle with ethical and legal difficulties associated with genetic science, a recent virtual issue of the Hastings Center Report could be good to think with. The issue collects earlier material on ethics and genetics. There are pieces about the perils of genetic-specific legislation; about the difficulties of understanding behavioral genetics; about the prospects of […]

Introspective genomics and the significance of one

As a philosopher, I am familiar with the image of the solitary thinker who studies the human mind though introspective study of his own. A recent article in the journal Cell reminds me of that image, but in unexpected “genomic” guise. To achieve statistical significance, medical researchers typically engage large numbers of research subjects. The […]

Personalized medicine against the diabetes epidemic?

When promising technologies see the light, it can be difficult to make sound predictions about their future utility. Technical breakthroughs that promise to transform society tend to bewitch the mind. Their tremendous potential begs for interpretation by more dreamlike imaginary powers. When nuclear power was young, for example, the impact this new technology promised to have on […]