Archive | August 8, 2015

Money and Fear is Why Congress is Stalling Autism Cover-up Hearings*

Money and Fear is Why Congress is Stalling Autism Cover-up Hearings*

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tells Newsmax Health that money is the reason Congress is delaying hearings on accusations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hid a link between the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

Robert F. Kennedy, JR speaking out against forced vaccinations in California

“The pharmaceutical industry is a trillion dollar industry,” Kennedy said in an exclusive interview.

“There are other trillion dollar industries, but not one that spends as much on Congress as it does.

The pharmaceutical industry spends twice what the next biggest industry spends, which is oil and gas. They spend four times what defence and aeronautics spend.
That kind of money — the money they spend in lobbying — buys a lot of influence,” he says.

It’s why congress people are scared to go against them. There’s just a lot of career fear.”

Kennedy, 61, the third of 11 children born to Robert and Ethel Kennedy, is a radio show host and environmentalist. He has long been a critic of childhood vaccination formulations containing mercury.

Republican Florida Rep. Bill Posey has called on his colleagues to investigate charges that the CDC covered up data that showing a strong link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

Rep. Posey referred to last summer’s admission by Dr. William Thompson, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC, that he helped the CDC hide data that showed giving a child the vaccine before the age of 36 months increased the risk of autism by 69%, and giving it to an African-American child increased the risk of autism by 240%. So far, Congress has refused to hold hearings.

“The CDC scheduled meetings to try to destroy the documents that demonstrated children were getting autism from the vaccine by literally dumping them in a trashcan,” Kennedy charged.

“Congress only seems to act when a congress person has been affected directly by vaccine injury.”

He points to two congressmen in addition to Posey who have spoken out about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism: former Reps. Dan Burton and Dave Weldon.

As chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, Burton linked autism with vaccines, and in a 2002 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, he asked the director of the FDA to recall all vaccines containing the mercury compound thimerosal.

“Every day that mercury-containing vaccines remain on the market is another day HHS is putting 8,000 children at risk,” Burton said.

Kennedy said the battle was personal for Rep. Burton.

“Burton had three years of hearings back in 2002 that were brilliant and were absolutely devastating,” Kennedy said.

“His grandson got regressive autism from those vaccines.”

In 2012, Burton once again called for congressional hearings into the causes of autism, including vaccines, saying the government’s response to the increase in autism was inadequate.

Rep. Weldon was a paediatrician. “He saw autism in his practice that was a result of the vaccines,” Kennedy said.

“He was a great activist.”

While Kennedy says he isn’t anti-vaccine, he believes it’s up to parents to protect their children from the possible consequences of being vaccinated with shots containing mercury.

“Be very careful about any vaccine that has mercury in it,” he said.

“If children get a flu vaccine, or tetanus, or meningitis vaccine, make sure they get non-thimerosal, single-dose vials.”
Source*

Related Topics:

New Federal Bill Lowers Standards on Poor Standards for Experimental Vaccine Licensing*

Big Pharma Assassinations and New Toxin Found in Vaccine*

Pathologists Confirm Vaccines Responsible for Baby’s Death*

Mother Fights Back for Child Developmentally Disabled by Vaccines*

Waking Up to Vaccine Discrimination*

African-American Autism and Vaccines*

Take II on U.S. Government Human Trials of Genetically Modified Ebola Vaccine*

European Medicines Agency Investigating HPV Vaccines*

A Staggering 271 New Vaccinations to Poison You*

Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy with Unlimited Political Bribery”*

Advertisements

Climate Change in the Universe unravels another Structure*

Climate Change in the Universe unravels another Structure*

Using both ground- and space-based observatories, a team of scientists has discovered the largest feature in the observable universe. It’s a “giant ring-like structure,” and our current understanding of physics suggests it shouldn’t exist at all.

The most luminous objects in the universe, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) occur when massive stars slip into black holes. In a violent display, all of the star’s energy is emitted through incredibly focused beams on either end at close to the speed of light.

In a matter of seconds, a GRB releases as much energy as the Sun does over the course of its entire 10 billion-year existence.

Only discovered as recently as 1967, the bursts have only been observed in distant galaxies. But if one was to occur in the Milky Way and its beam was pointed toward Earth, the effects could be devastating, dousing the surface of the planet in enough radiation to wipeout even the most resistant organisms.

According to a US-Hungarian team of scientists, not one, not two, but nine of these have been discovered 7 billion light years from Earth. While that’s a perfectly safe distance as far as humanity is concerned, the discovery is raising some eyebrows.

The gamma-ray bursts are arranged in a 36° ring that appears to be over 5 billion light years across. For comparison purposes, the Milky Way galaxy has a diameter of 100,000 light years, and the largest known galaxy has a diameter of only 6 million light years.

In fact, everything we know about physics suggests that the largest structure which could possibly exist in the universe is 1.2 billion light years.

If we are right, this structure contradicts the current models of the universe,” Professor Lajos Balazs, of Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, said in the report.

“It was a huge surprise to find something this big – and we still don’t quite understand how it came to exist at all.”

There’s always the possibility that the GRBs are not bound together by any common gravitational force, but are entirely separate objects which only coincidentally form a ring. But according to Balazs, the chances of such a random occurrence are only 1 in 20,000.

“If the ring represents a real spatial structure, then it has to be seen nearly face-on because of the small variations of GRB distances around the object’s centre,” Balazs says.

That refers to the fact that GRBs can only be observed by planets almost directly facing the beam. Any variation makes the gamma-ray burst virtually invisible.

“The ring could though instead be a projection of a sphere, where the GRBs all occurred within a 250 million year period, a short timescale compared with the age of the universe.”

Still, even if the structure is a spheroidal ring projection, the void within is at least ten times larger than any known void.

The scientists’ paper has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source*

Related Topics:

Sun’s Magnetic Field 230% Stronger and Affecting the Entire Solar System*

Heavenly Signs: New Structures Evolving!?

What They Haven’t Told You about Climate Change*

Paris Climate Change Conference shows Road to NWO Weather Control*

NASA Lies*

Syrian Army Kills 50 Al-Nusra Front Terrorists, Mostly Foreigners*

Syrian Army Kills 50 Al-Nusra Front Terrorists, Mostly Foreigners*

The Syrian army killed more than 50 militants of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group in the city of Rabis, Latakia Governorate in the north-west of the country, Syrian national TV channel citing a military source reported Saturday.

According to the source, most of those killed were foreign mercenaries.

The source added that some 10 units of military equipment had been also destroyed.

The Syrian army detected a detachment of insurgents prior to launching the attack. The target was attacked by Syrian Air Force aircraft and artillery.

On Friday, a group of 37 terrorists of the terrorist group was discovered and killed by the Syrian army between the city of Latakia and the Turkish border, while they were trying to approach the city.

Latakia is the largest Syrian port city, as well as the administrative centre of the province of the same name. The majority of the population consists of the Alawites, Sunny Muslims minority group, who support the ruling Baath Party in Syria led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has been in a state of a civil war since March 2011 with government forces fighting on multiple fronts against a so-called “moderate” opposition and numerous extremist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra.

The al-Nusra Front is a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon. The group announced its formation in January 2012. It has been described as both one of the most aggressive and successful rebel forces in Syria.

Source*

Related Topics:

British SAS Special Forces “Dressed Up as ISIS Rebels” Fighting Assad in Syria*

State Dept. No Legal Authority for US Airstrikes Supporting Syrian Rebels*

Staged ISIS Beheading Video Hacked from McCain Staffer*

What Burning a Baby says about Israel*

What Burning a Baby says about Israel*

The murders of baby Ali Dawabsheh in Duma and 16-year-old Shira Banki at Jerusalem’s gay pride cannot be separated from the state’s violence toward Palestinians.

By Jen Marlowe

Palestinian children light candles during a rally to remember 18-month-old Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsheh, who was killed after his family’s house was set on fire in a suspected attack by Jewish extremists. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Duma, West Bank–Eman and Mamoun Dawabsheh’s five children might have burned to death in the early morning hours of July 31, when Israeli settlers snuck into Duma, the West Bank village where they live, and tossed firebombs into their home. Fire entirely decimated the room where the boys usually sleep. The heat of the blaze melted the television that 17-year-old Moatasem sometimes falls asleep watching. Fortunately, the family was in Nablus.

“We had been planning to come home [the night of the fire] but my husband had another [construction] job, so he said, ‘Let’s stay in Nablus another week,’” Eman said.

Mamoun’s brother called them at 2 a.m., saying their house was on fire. Eman and Mamoun rushed back to their village, thinking the fire was likely caused by faulty wiring and thanking God that no people were in the house.

“Material things are not precious like human beings,” Eman said.

While en route, however, she learned that the house of her neighbours and distant cousins, Sa’ad and Riham Dawabsheh, was also on fire.

“I said [to myself], ‘Please God, don’t let them be home now.’ ”

Only upon seeing the crowds of people, cars, and fire engines did Eman learn that Sa’ad and Riham had, indeed, been home. They and their 4-year-old son Ahmed had been pulled from the blaze with severe burn injuries. Eighteen-month-old baby Ali was still trapped inside. Soon after, Ali’s body was located in the charred house.

Though Eman didn’t see the baby’s corpse, she was told that it was burned and blackened beyond recognition. Riham, Sa’ad and Ahmed were rushed to hospitals in Israel, where Riham and Ahmed remain in critical condition. Ali was buried in the village cemetery later that day. Sa’ad died from his wounds early morning Saturday, August 8. The toddler’s death made headlines around the world, sparking both international outrage and the protest of thousands, both inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“The boy, the child, Ali—his mother called him Aloush,” Eman said, describing the toddler as always smiling.

“I’d open my window, see her hanging clothes and he would go jumping around her. She’d call, ‘Aloush! Please stop!’ She was afraid he might fall down. ‘Be careful, be careful!’ I hope she will be alright…”

Eman’s voice cracked, and tears came. Riham was more than a neighbour; the two women were close friends.

Mamoun Dawabsheh’s father, Rashid, stands outside of his son’s burnt house in Duma, next to graffiti reading “Revenge.” Jen Marlowe

The killing of Ali Dawabsheh was not the first act of murderous violence in Israel and the occupied territories in the past week, nor was it the last. The settlers’ attack in Duma came hours after a violent stabbing at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade. Yishai Schlissel, an Ultra-Orthodox Israeli man, injured six marchers, ultimately killing 16-year-old Shira Banki. (Schlissel had been recently released from prison, where he had served a 10-year sentence for having attacked the 2005 Pride parade in the same fashion.)

Moriel Rothman-Zecher, an Israeli activist and blogger, was marching in the parade. A few hundred meters ahead, he saw the crowd scatter and begin to scream. He heard someone call out that people had been stabbed.

“We went to sleep shaken up, mourning, horrified and praying for the people who were stabbed in Jerusalem,” Rothman-Zecher said.

“And then to wake up and hear that a family had been badly burned and their tiny baby had been murdered in the West Bank, it felt immediately very connected.” Maayan Dak, an Israeli lesbian activist against the occupation, and the co-coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace, agreed.

“In a society that is so far away from tolerance, this is what you get. You get extreme settlers attacking people in South Hebron Hills, you get people burning schools, you get people burning babies alive, you get stabbing at Pride parade.”

As the days pass, however, Rothman-Zecher finds it increasingly important not to lump the two incidents together.

“The most important context for the West Bank killing is the occupation,” Rothman-Zecher emphasized.

“The occupation, by virtue of it being a system of inequality, has as its basis the view that Palestinian lives are less valuable than Jewish lives.”

Yet Dak and Rothman-Zecher both point to a near universal condemnation of both attacks from the vast majority of Israeli society as a common, optimistic thread.

“I do think there’s a real value that there’s this outpouring of societal compassion, and this across-the-board condemnation of bigoted violence in response to both murders,” says Rothman-Zecher.

The next step is that it becomes incumbent upon the organized political left to take this real compassion and real anger and help channel it against all forms of discrimination.”

Dak argues that although most Israelis think it’s terrible that a baby was murdered, they don’t see the connection to the wider picture of oppression and violence in Israeli society.

“It’s a good sign that people are not totally indifferent,” Dak said.

“But I’m not sure it’s a good thing that people are shocked by specific peaks of violence, because it covers up the daily reality…. People think there’s a few crazy lunatics in the settlements who think it’s okay to kill Palestinians… ‘It’s not us, it’s not the Israeli state, it’s not Israeli policy. It’s just a few crazy men.’ ”

The Israeli government’s response to the settlers’ attack—condemning the individual arsonists, but disconnecting it from the larger occupation—reinforced Dak’s point.

“This is an act of terrorism in every respect,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted.

“The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of the perpetrators.”

Eman Dawabsheh takes a cynical view of the Israeli government’s outrage over the attack on her family and neighbours. She believes the Israeli government condemned this attack by Israeli civilians in order to distance it from state-sponsored violence. Israel needs the world to see Palestinians as terrorists, not Israelis.

“They want any attack from them to be from their soldiers, [portrayed as] self-defense, to say, ‘We are not like them.’”

Indeed, Leehee Rothschild, a queer political organizer in Tel Aviv, links the violence perpetrated by Israeli civilians in Duma to violence perpetrated by the Israeli military during the confrontations that occurred in its aftermath.

“A Palestinian family was burnt, a baby was killed, and instead of understanding and containing the ensuing protest and outrage, the Israeli army violently oppressed them and killed two more Palestinian youth.”

Laith Alkhaldi as a small child, with his older brother and sister on either side of him. Courtesy the AlKhaldi family

This link is not lost on the family of 15-year-old Laith Alkhaldi. According to his aunt, Samah Khuyyat, Laith left the house the afternoon of July 31, telling his family he was going out to play with friends. News of the murder of baby Ali Dawabsheh reached him later that morning. He went to Atara military checkpoint with friends. “Laith wanted to find some way to let out his anger,” Samah said.

Another one of his aunts, Hana Khuyyat, insisted that “his stand there did not reflect any danger to the soldiers.”

The Israeli military claimed in a statement to me that Molotov cocktails had been thrown by Palestinians at an Israeli military position near the West Bank town of Bir Zeit, and that in response soldiers “opened live fire, seriously injuring one.” That one was Laith.

The family got a phone call informing them that Laith had been shot in the chest. The teenager was rushed to the hospital in Ramallah where he died a few hours later.

The bulletin board in the back bedroom is covered with photos of Laith’s childhood. His aunts describes a smart boy (especially talented in math and music) who loved to breed dogs, cats and rabbits. Laith’s family half believes it’s all a dream, and that they will wake up and find Laith between them again.

“Laith is coming back,” his 17-year-old brother, Yazan, insists.

Laith’s aunt Hana, has been sleeping in the same room as Yazan, trying to calm his fear. Even with her there, she said, Yazan has not been sleeping. Yazan’s twin sister, Tala, can barely hold her head up, or speak.

Laith was not killed in a cycle of violence, Hana insisted.

“It’s not a cycle of violence, it’s a cycle of violations.”

Israel must end its occupation entirely, she said.

Palestinian activist and organizer Saeed Amireh wants to see Palestinians doing more to bring about that day.

“People can stand by us, support and be in solidarity with us, but no one can struggle for us if we don’t struggle by ourselves,” he said.

Source*

Related Topics:

Israel’s President Proclaims Israel is a “Sick Society”*

Palestine from Sovereignty to an Israeli Enclave*

Palestinians Now Forced to Live in Caves*

Palestinians Behind Assad to Reclaim Yarmouk Refugee Camp*

Woman Who Led Palestinian Bid for ICC Membership Arrested 24hrs of Succeeding*

Israel Stopped South African Minister’s Visit to Palestine*

If U.S. et al Hold out Long enough there will be no Palestinian State to Recognize*

Palestinians to Prosecute Israel at ICC on June 25*

Threats from the U.S. as Palestine Submits Formal Complaint to ICC*

Palestine Drops Bid to Suspend Israel from FIFA*

US And Israeli Pressured Nigeria To Sell Out Palestine At U.N.*

Vatican signs First Treaty with State of Palestine*

Israel Considers Full Annexation of Sinai*

The Root Cause of the Never-Ending Conflict in Palestine; and How to Fix It*

U.S. Gov’t Seizing Sacred Lands of Native Americans*

U.S. Gov’t Seizing Sacred Lands of Native Americans*

The US government consistently tries to take away traditional, sacred lands under the custody of Native Americans established by official treaties, Cherokee Elder of Bird Clan Mashu White Feather said.

All the treaties between US-government and Native Americans, the number of which is up to around 600, have all been broken, and not by our people,” the Cherokee Elder, who is on a visit to the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk in western Siberia, told RIA Novosti.

According to Mashu White Feather, the US government consistently finds ways to “get our treaty lands.”

According to US laws, the government has to prove that private lands are needed for public use in order to be able to use them.

“One thing that just happened recently: Senator McCain took the sacred land of the Apache tribe in Arizona, which is the Oak Flat community. They took very sacred land … and they attached this land on to a military bill, that went through Congress. Because one part of the bill passed through Congress, the land was taken away,” he pointed out.

Source*

Related Topics:

Government Sells Native Sacred Land to Mining Company*

Eugenics: Kidnapping of the Indigenous Sioux in South Dakota*

Apache Stronghold Convoy nears DC for Desecration of Oak Flat*

The Vanishing Indigenous Nations of the U.S. – Five Facts*

Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

The Indigenous of Maine Claim Sovereignty*

Unconstitutional Senate Intelligence Authorization Act makes you a Criminal*

Unconstitutional Senate Intelligence Authorization Act makes you a Criminal*

By Stephen Lendman

Freedom in America is being systematically destroyed one police state law at a time – with most people ignorant and/or indifferent about what happening.

Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan – in lockstep against government representing everyone equitably and fairly, serving privileged interests only.

S. Res. 1705: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 compromises free expression and privacy rights already gravely eroded.

If enacted, Section 603 will require online companies to inform Washington of any “actual knowledge” of “facts and circumstances” related to undefined “terrorist activity” – meaning warrantless searches and seizures of personal electronic content will be authorized, potentially subjecting countless numbers of innocent people to unjustifiable scrutiny.

Vague language makes independent journalists, political, anti-war, and social justice activists, academics and students doing legitimate research, as well as others vulnerable to being called suspected terrorists.

The possibility could encourage self-censorship. Service providers may over-report to show compliance with the law. Online users could be flagged for using suspect words or phrases.

One definition of terrorist activity can be another’s way of describing freedom fighting. Legitimate government criticism could be misinterpreted and misused.

Anyone ideologically opposed to US policies could become vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for expressing their views online. Police states operate this way.

Provisions like Section 603 violate fundamental constitutional and international law guaranteed rights. At stake is further erosion of First and Fourth Amendment freedoms.

Senate members overwhelmingly support S. 1705. Before recessing until September, they were set to pass it by voice vote until Senator Ron Wyden objected.

He wants normal debate procedure followed. He noted valid concerns raised by Internet companies about Section 603.

The Internet Association representing dozens of technology companies said vague language about what constitutes terrorism creates “an impossible compliance problem.”

It’ll result in “massive reporting of items that are not likely to be of material concern to public safety.” Wyden said

“Internet companies should not be subject to broad requirements to police the speech of their users.”

He knows of no law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggesting Section 603 will help identify terrorists. He urges revision or elimination of this section altogether.

Thirty-one civil liberties organizations and trade associations expressed opposition to Section 603 in a letter sent Senate leaders.

They include Project Censored, the Media Freedom Foundation, the ACLU, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and American Library Association among others.

They warned of concerns raised above. Innocent people committing no crimes would be at risk.

“Complying with Section 603 would create a chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech and would impermissibly burden individuals’ First and Fourth Amendment rights,” they said.

“Whether a given comment is a true threat of violence, an expression of a sincerely held religious belief, or a simple joke among friends is a determination that providers are ill-suited to make, particularly when the consequence is reporting a person to the government under the suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.”

Section 603 is unconstitutional. It way oversteps. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Internet companies may report any content they believe relates to criminality.

“Section 603’s reporting requirement threatens individuals’ constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of expression and would burden US-based providers without providing a clear benefit to law enforcement.  For these reasons, we urge you to reject this flawed provision and to remove it from the Intelligence Authorization Act,” the signatories said.

Source *

Related Topics:

Journalist Wins Fifth Amendment Case*

Police Brutality Protests Forced 24 States to Pass 40 New Police Reform Measures*

State Dept. No Legal Authority for US Airstrikes Supporting Syrian Rebels*

Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy with Unlimited Political Bribery”*

What can be made of this Royal Conundrum?*

Powerful DNA ‘Editing’ Has Arrived*

Powerful DNA ‘Editing’ Has Arrived*

By Jeff Bessen

z-dna_orbit_animated.gifCRISPR/Cas is a new technology that allows unprecedented control over the DNA code. It’s sparked a revolution in the fields of genetics and cell biology, becoming the scientific equivalent of a household name by raising hopes about new ways to cure diseases including cancer and to unlock the remaining mysteries of our cells.

The gene editing technique also raises concerns. Could the new tools allow parents to order “designer babies”? Could premature use in patients lead to unforeseen and potentially dangerous consequences? This potential for abuse or misuse led prominent scientists to call for a halt on some types of new research until ethical issues can be discussed – a voluntary ban that was swiftly ignored in some quarters.

The moratorium is a positive step toward preserving the public’s trust and safety, while the promising new technology can be further studied.

Editing DNA to Cure or Cause Disease?

While most human diseases are caused, at least partially, by mutations in our DNA, current therapies treat the symptoms of these mutations but not the genetic root cause. For example, cystic fibrosis, which causes the lungs to fill with excess mucus, is caused by a single DNA mutation. However, cystic fibrosis treatments focus on the symptoms – working to reduce mucus in the lungs and fight off infections – rather than correcting the mutation itself. That’s because making precise changes to the three-billion-letter DNA code remains a challenge even in a Petri dish, and it is unprecedented in living patients. (The only current example of gene therapy, called Glybera, does not involve modifying the patient’s DNA, and has been approved for limited use in Europe to treat patients with a digestive disorder.)

That all changed in 2012, when several research groups demonstrated that a DNA-cutting technology called CRISPR/Cas could operate on human DNA. Compared to previous, inefficient methods for editing DNA, CRISPR/Cas offers a shortcut. It acts like a pair of DNA scissors that cut where prompted by a special strand of RNA (a close chemical relative of DNA). Snipping DNA turns on the cell’s DNA repair process, which can be hijacked to either disable a gene – say, one that allows tumour cells to grow uncontrollably – or to fix a broken gene, such as the mutation that causes cystic fibrosis. The advantages of the Cas9 system over its predecessor genome-editing technologies – its high specificity and the ease of navigating to a specific DNA sequence with the “guide RNA” – have contributed to its rapid adoption in the scientific community.

The barrier to fixing the DNA of diseased cells appears to have evaporated.

Playing with fire

With the advance of this technique, the obstacles to altering genes in embryos are falling away, opening the door to so-called “designer babies” with altered appearance or intelligence. Ethicists have long feared the consequences of allowing parents to choose the traits of their babies. Further, there is a wide gap between our understanding of disease and the genes that might cause them. Even if we were capable of performing flawless genetic surgery, we don’t yet know how specific changes to the DNA will manifest in a living human. Finally, the editing of germ line cells such as embryos could permanently introduce altered DNA into the gene pool to be inherited by descendants.

And making cuts in one’s DNA is not without risks. Cas9 – the scissor protein – is known to cleave DNA at unintended or “off-target” sites in the genome. Were Cas9 to inappropriately chop an important gene and inactivate it, the therapy could cause cancer instead of curing it.

Take it slow

All the concerns around Cas9 triggered a very unusual event: a call from prominent scientists to halt some of this research. In March of 2015, a group of researchers and lawyers called for a voluntary pause on further using CRISPR technology in germ line cells until ethical guidelines could be decided.

Writing in the journal Science, the group – including two Nobel laureates and the inventors of the CRISPR technology – noted that we don’t yet understand enough about the link between our health and our DNA sequence. Even if a perfectly accurate DNA-editing system existed – and Cas9 surely doesn’t yet qualify – it would still be premature to treat patients with genetic surgery. The authors disavowed genome editing only in specific cell types such as embryos, while encouraging the basic research that would put future therapeutic editing on a firmer foundation of evidence.

Pushing ahead

Despite this call for CRISPR/Cas research to be halted, a Chinese research group reported on their attempts at editing human embryos only two months later. Described in the journal Protein & Cell, the authors treated nonviable embryos to fix a gene mutation that causes a blood disease called β-thalassemia.

The study results proved the concerns of the Science group to be well-founded. The treatment killed nearly one in five embryos, and only half of the surviving cells had their DNA modified. Of the cells that were even modified, only a fraction had the disease mutation repaired. The study also revealed off-target DNA cutting and incomplete editing among all the cells of a single embryo. Obviously these kinds of errors are problematic in embryos meant to mature into fully grown human beings.

George Daley, a Harvard biologist and member of the group that called for the moratorium, concluded that “their study should be a stern warning to any practitioner who thinks the technology is ready for testing to eradicate disease genes.”

In the enthusiasm and hype surrounding Cas9, it is easy to forget that the technology has been in wide use for barely three years.

Role of a moratorium

Despite the publication of the Protein & Cell study – whose experiments likely took place at least months earlier – the Science plea for a moratorium can already be considered a success. The request from such a respected group has brought visibility to the topic and put pressure on universities, regulatory boards and the editors of scientific journals to discourage such research. (As evidence of this pressure, the Chinese authors were rejected from at least two top science journals before getting their paper accepted.) And the response to the voluntary ban has thus far not included accusations of “stifling academic freedom,” possibly due to the scientific credibility of the organizers.

While rare, the call for a moratorium on research for ethical reasons can be traced to an earlier controversy over DNA technology. In 1975, a group that came to be known as the Asilomar Conference called for caution with an emerging technology called recombinant DNA until its safety could be evaluated and ethical guidelines could be published. The similarity between the two approaches is no coincidence: several authors of the Science essay were also members of the Asilomar team.

The Asilomar guidelines are now widely viewed as having been a proportionate and responsible measure, placing the right emphasis on safety and ethics without hampering research progress. It turns out recombinant DNA technology was much less dangerous than originally feared; existing evidence already shows that we might not be so lucky with Cas9. Another important legacy of the Asilomar conference was the promotion of an open discussion involving experts as well as the general public. By heeding the lessons of caution and public engagement, hopefully the saga of CRISPR/Cas will unfold in a similarly responsible – yet exciting – way.

Source*

Related Topics:

DNA Editors Forget it, as Another Code is Discovered*

Conscientious Scientists want a Ban on Editing the Human Genome*

With Cover-ups UN Quietly Offers DNA Tests for ‘Peacekeeper Babies’ & Sexual Abuse Claims*

U.K. Three Parents Babies Violates Human Dignity*

British Children as Young as 3 Referred for Transgender Treatment*