science
A Baby Conceived in 1992 Was Born Just Last Month

Wrap your head around this one: On November 25, 2017 a healthy baby girl was born to a 26-year-old mother in Tennessee—but the embryo that would later result in the baby was conceived and cryogenically frozen in 1992. It’s now considered the oldest known frozen embryo to result in a successful birth. Read More >>

bioethics
Unconscious Patient With ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Tattoo Causes Ethical Conundrum at Hospital

When an unresponsive patient arrived at a Florida hospital ER, the medical staff was taken aback upon discovering the words “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed onto the man’s chest—with the word “NOT” underlined and with his signature beneath it. Confused and alarmed, the medical staff chose to ignore the apparent DNR request—but not without alerting the hospital’s ethics team, who had a different take on the matter. Read More >>

animals
US Lawsuit Is the First to Claim Elephants as Legal Persons

Yesterday, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition on behalf of three elephants being kept at a Connecticut zoo. The suit demands that the court recognise these animals as “legal persons” and release them to sanctuary, but given that the same legal team failed to secure similar person hood rights for chimps in New York, it’s not immediately clear how successful the new effort will be. Read More >>

science
This Guy Just Injected Himself With a DIY HIV Treatment on Facebook Live

Tristan Roberts sits sandwiched between two men on a couch in a bland DC apartment, with leafy, dusk-lit trees peeking out from the sheer curtains behind him. The mundanity of the setting betrays the extremity of what is about to happen next. On the elliptical glass coffee table in front of him is a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a tray holding a glass of water, several vials, and syringes. Roberts is about to inject himself with an experimental gene therapy for HIV, a DIY prototype treatment designed by three biohacker friends. The treatment had never been tested in humans. Read More >>

animals
Unethical Breeding is Creating Serious Health Problems for German Shepherds

German Shepherds are among the most popular dog breeds in the world, but their numbers have started to decline. New research suggests the decreasing demand for German Shepherds may have something to do with the breed’s propensity for health problems—likely the result of selective breeding for cosmetic traits. Read More >>

science
Scientists in the US Reportedly Just Edited a Human Embryo for the First Time

China has long been ahead of the US when it comes to human genetic engineering—there, the idea seems far less morally fraught. But for the first time, scientists in the United States have now genetically modified a human embryo, according to a new report in the MIT Technology Review. At Oregon Health and Science University, the publication reports, scientists are using the gene-editing technique CRISPR to alter the DNA of a “large number of one-cell embryos.” Read More >>

science
Gene Editing Controversy Reminds Us Just How Much Money Influences Science

Recently, a kerfuffle in the world of CRISPR illustrated just how easily money—and our perception of it—can impact science. Read More >>

science
This Controversial Doctor Wants to Use ‘Three-Parent’ Embryos to Treat Infertility

Last autumn, John Zhang made headlines after his fertility clinic announced that for the first time a baby had been born using a new technique requiring three genetic parents. The baby’s mother carried the genes for a fatal nervous system disorder called Leigh syndrome, but Zhang had been able to keep the disease from being inherited by her son by swapping in a donor’s mitochondrial DNA, the teeny bit of DNA where Leigh syndrome is housed. Since the technique is illegal in the US, the baby had been born in Mexico, where, as Zhang explained in a comment he might live to regret, “there are no rules.” Read More >>

futurism
When Will Robots Deserve Human Rights?

Films and TV shows like Blade Runner, Humans, and Westworld, where highly advanced robots have no rights, trouble our conscience. They show us that our behaviours are not just harmful to robots—they also demean and diminish us as a species. We like to think we’re better than the characters on the screen, and that when the time comes, we’ll do the right thing, and treat our intelligent machines with a little more dignity and respect. Read More >>

archaeology
Over 7,000 Bodies May Be Buried Beneath Mississippi University

In what sounds like a clichéd horror movie premise, a recent investigation suggests as many as 7,000 bodies are buried across 20 acres at the Mississippi Medical Center Campus—the former site of the state’s first mental institution. Officials at the university now face the grim task of pulling 100-year-old bodies out of the ground for scientific analysis. Read More >>

science
Elon Musk Is Wrong to Think He Can Save the World By Boosting Our Brains

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced a new venture called Neuralink, a startup which aims to develop neural interface technologies that connect our brains to computers. Musk says it’s the best way to prevent an AI apocalypse, but it’s on this point that he’s gravely mistaken. Read More >>

environment
India and New Zealand Were Wrong to Recognise Rivers as Persons

Courts in New Zealand and India have granted legal personhood status to three rivers. The strange status is meant to protect the waters from pollution, but the measure could lead to unintended consequences, while undermining efforts to grant personhood status to living beings who actually deserve it. Read More >>

science
The CRISPR Gene-Editing Tool is Finally Being Used on Humans

A team of scientists in China has become the first to treat a human patient with the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique. While the results of the trial are uncertain, it’s a historic milestone that should serve as a serious wakeup call to the rest of the world. Read More >>

science
World’s First ‘Three Parent Baby’ Born Thanks to a New Fertility Technique

A new reproductive technique in which a baby is produced with the genetic material from three distinct parents has yielded its first human. Read More >>

science
Monsanto Just Got Access to the World’s Most Powerful Gene-Editing Tool

Agriculture company Monsanto has acquired a non-exclusive global licensing agreement from MIT’s Broad Institute and Harvard to use the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system. The firm will use it to design and grow new seeds and plants, but there are key restrictions on its use to prevent Monsanto from abusing this revolutionary new technology. Read More >>