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February 19th, 2007

Ethical implications of new science

News of Edinburgh scientists' potential cure for Rett syndrome - a physically damaging form of autism - might have raised a few more eyebrows in international press this week had what it actually proposes been made more explicit. That is, any eventual treatment developed would involve the genetic modification of humans.

And if the week's headlines are to be believed, humans may be in for a large helping of modification: a "bionic" eye which connects directly to the optic nerve, a process of shifting around heart cells to repair heart disease or a breakthrough in nanotechnology. So it seems odd that, in a week which has had science journals so excited, the tabloid media who usually most enjoy whipping up a palaver about meddling with our perfect form have given in without so much as a whimper.


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