Alexander Says Gene Editing Technology, When Used Properly, Has The Potential To Transform Human Health

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Tuesday said that “gene editing technology, like CRISPR-cas9, has the potential to transform human health, when used properly.”

He said, “CRISPR is a form of gene editing that essentially uses molecules that can be targeted to act as scissors to cut and edit genes. In a way, it is like cutting and pasting in a computer document. That may be an oversimplification, but this technology is less expensive, more precise, and more readily available to scientists all over the world than other gene editing technologies.

“The most widespread use until now has been in agriculture, to create disease-resistant wheat and rice, and modify tomatoes and soybeans to improve yields. CRISPR’s use in humans is more recent, but the possibility of the diseases it could treat and the lives that could be improved is remarkable.

“This includes diseases that currently have limited treatments or cures. Researchers see the possibility of treating blood diseases and sickle cell disease, improving the amount of time immune cells are active in fighting tumors, or even identifying, and then treating, a predisposition to Alzheimer’s.

“While CRISPR has amazing potential, it is not hard to see how we can quickly get into societal and ethical issues. The technology could lead to permanent changes to the human genome, and there is even the possibility of making changes in embryos to create so-called ‘designer babies.’ And in the hands of our adversaries, CRISPR poses national security concerns through the potential to produce new biological weapons.

“Part of our job on this committee is to learn about new technologies, to lead discussions with experts about the implications of these scientific advancements and to ensure that the National Institutes of Health and others have the proper authority to oversee and conduct research.”

The committee held a hearing on Tuesday on CRISPR to learn more about the technology from expert witnesses. Witnesses included Dr. Matthew Porteus, associate professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University; Katrine Bosley, chief executive officer and president of Editas Medicine; and Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics at John Hopkins School of Public Health.

Alexander’s full remarks are here. 



Free Bariatric Seminars Hosted By CHI Memorial Metabolic And Bariatric Care

Jaime Ponce, M.D. and CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care will host free seminars in May on surgical weight loss options. The seminars will be held at CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care, 7405 Shallowford Road, Suite 160. "Obesity can be devastating to a person’s health and self-esteem. These educational seminars are designed to help you better understand bariatric ... (click for more)

Dr. Charles Woods Named Chair Of Pediatrics, Chief Medical Officer At Children’s Hospital Of Erlanger

Dr. Charles Woods, former chairman of the Department of Pediatrics with the University of Louisville College of Medicine, has been named chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga and chief medical officer of the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. The announcement was made jointly by Dr. Bruce Shack, dean of the University ... (click for more)

McCallie Coach From 90s Who Is Now Deceased Is Accused Of Abusing Students

A McCallie School coach from the 1990s who is now deceased is being accused of abusing students at the private prep school. Two former students said Steven Lee "Steve" Carpenter sexually abused them. Carpenter was the basketball coach at McCallie for 11 seasons - through 1999. He was boys basketball coach at Ridgeland High School beginning in 2000. Carpenter was ... (click for more)

Famed Radio Broadcaster Tommy Jett Dies At 77 At His Flintstone Home

Legendary radio broadcaster Tommy Jett (Thomas Wayne Reynolds) died Wednesday in his sleep at his residence in Flintstone, Ga.   He was 77. The native of Smithville, Tn., first was heard on Chattanooga radio in 1961 when he joined WFLI. He was known for his gaudy rings and his "Hey Now" greeting. He switched to country on WDOD in the 1980s and later was on "The Legend" ... (click for more)

Pluses And Minuses Of Tennessee's New Opioid Law

It was clear when Governor Haslam announced his TN Together plan in January that lawmakers were going to do something to try to address the state’s opioid abuse epidemic. With the passage of SB 2257/HB 1831, Tennessee now has one of the most comprehensive and restrictive laws of any state.   The Tennessee Medical Association was actively engaged in the process and appreciates ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A True Tennessean

“Last week I told some Republican friends who have held high office, traditional and true Republicans, who like you are both conservative and compassionate, Christians in their personal faith and public service,” the email began. “These are Tennessee Republicans that I have known for decades, and whom I'd trust with my life and my wife … I told them that my views and values make ... (click for more)