Reprogenetics & Reproductive Ethics

In December 2018 I published a paper titled “CRISPR pigs, pigoons and the future of organ transplantation” for a special issue of the journal “Ethics & Politics” titled “From Genome Editing to New Reproductive Technologies: Ethical and Social Issues”edited by Dr Maurizio Balistreri.

This paper discusses the possible biofuture imagined by George Church, in which we are able to grow humanized organs in pigs and edit them with CRISPR genome editing technologies so that they are free of porcine endogenous retroviruses that pose a risk for human transplant, and juxtaposes it with the biofuture imagined by Margaret Atwood in her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake. I adopt Ari Shick’s critique of speculative bioethics to show how an over-emphasis on the urgency of the experiments may overshadow other non-medical solutions to the problem of shortage of organs for transplantation. In the end, I draw some reflections on the role that science fiction and speculative fiction play in the construction of biofutures for bioethics. The full paper can be accessed here.

In February 2018 I published a guest editorial for the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry: Rearranging Deck Chairs on a Sinking Ship? Some Reflections on Ethics and Reproduction Looking Back at 2017 and Ahead at 2018 The full article is available open access here:

titanic-deck-chairsIn June 2017 I wrote this editorial  for the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

‘Human reproduction is increasingly being externalized. We have a number of technologies that make this possible: in vitro fertilization (IVF), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), gamete donation, surrogacy, and, more recently, mitochondrial transfer technologies and uterus transplant. [..] This ‘Bioethics and Biopolitics: Presents and Futures of Reproduction’ symposium draws together a series of articles that were each submitted independently by their authors to the JBI and which explore the biopower axis in the externalization of reproduction in four contexts: artificial gestation (ectogenesis), PGD for sex selection, women’s (reproductive) rights, and testicular cryopreservation (TCCP). While one contribution explores a “future” of reproduction, the other three explore a “present,” or better, explore different “presents.” What may counts as “present,” and what may count as “future,” has dramatically different connotations depending on the geographical declination of the tense’.

The full article was published on June 12th, 2017 and is available open-access here:

Camporesi S, Cavaliere G (2016) Emerging ethical perspectives in the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats genome-editing debate, Personalized Medicine, 13(6): 575-586. This paper provides an overview of the ethical issues in the international clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) genome editing debate from March 2015 to September 2016. We present the regulatory framework for embryo research in the UK, and explain why CRISPR is not a significant break with the past. We discuss the ethical issues arising from CRISPR applications beyond human embryos, namely the use of gene drive-engineered mosquitoes to eradicate diseases, engineering nonhuman animals to harvest organs for human transplant and engineering crops. We discuss the experiments that have demonstrated the technical feasibility of cultivating embryos in vitro for up to 14 days, and possibly beyond this limit, and the ethical issues arising from the proposal to extend the limit beyond 14 days. Continue reading here.

Zeng, X., Zannoni, L., Löwy, I., & Camporesi S. (2016). Localizing NIPT: Practices and meanings of non-invasive prenatal testing in China, Italy, Brazil and the UK. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, 2(3), 392-401.

Camporesi SBottalico BZamboni G. (2011). Can we finally ‘see’ Pain?: Brain imaging techniques and implications for the lawJ Consciousness Studies, 18(9-10):257-276. In “Considering the lobster“, David Foster Wallace wrote: “Since pain is a totally subjective mental experience, we do not have access to pain except our own“. That was the year 2004. What has changed in our access to pain experiences (ours and of others) since then? Is it still true that we cannot have any kind of access to other people’s pain? In one sense, of course, it is still true: we cannot feel other people’s pain, even if we can empathize with them to some level. But in another sense, there is a claim that brain imaging techniques might offer us an opportunity to access other people’s pain, by making it visible and, to some extent, measurable. Continue reading here.

Camporesi S. (2010): ‘Choosing deafness with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: an ethical way to carry on a cultural bloodline?’ Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 19(1): 86-96. In this paper I analyse the real case of genetically deaf parents seeking in vitro fertilization and PGD in the US to choose ‘children like themselves’, i.e. to choose to implant an embryo carrying the mutation for genetic based deafness. Continue reading here.

Camporesi S. and Boniolo, G. (2008): ‘Fearing a non existing Minotaur? The ethical challenges of research on cytoplasmic hybrid embryos’ J Medical Ethics, 34: 821-825. In this  paper we address the controversial pronouncement of the UK’s Human Embryology and Fertilisation Authority of September 2007 on the permissibility research on the ethical challenges of research on human-animal cytoplasmic hybrid embryos, or ‘cybrids’.

Camporesi S. (2007): The context of embryonic development and its ethical relevanceBiotechnol J, 2(9):1147-53. My very first paper…Re-reading it now it I found it quite naive (but that is a general reaction to reading old papers I guess) but I am affectionately attached to it. Anyhow, in this review I discuss -and try to dispell- ten  frequently used arguments against research on human embryos.

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