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The rapid growth of genetic databases worldwide, coupled with fast-decreasing costs and the rapid pace of technological change, has increased the possibility of every human genome on Earth being sequenced this century. This raises ethical and legal questions on data privacy and ownership. While a global genetic database would revolutionise preventive medicine and research, new forms of surveillance, discrimination and power imbalances could emerge. The global interplay between the individual, the ...

Xenotransplantation, defined as the transplantation of animal derived organs and cells into humans, is currently a very active focus of research as it overrides some of the obstacles encountered with tissue engineering, such as vascularization and innervation. The resurgence of interest in xenotransplantation is mainly attributed to the improvement of gene editing techniques (such as CRISPR/Cas9), since genetically engineered animals have been generated to overcome organ rejection. However, xenotransplantation ...

Regenerative medicine (RM) is an interdisciplinary field that applies engineering and life science techniques to restore tissues and organs damaged by age, disease or trauma, as well as those with congenital defects. Promising data supports the future capability of using RM across a wide array of organ systems and contexts, including surface wounds, cardiovascular diseases and traumas and treatments for certain types of cancer.

The issue of organ donation and transplantation gained renewed political momentum as one of the initial health priorities of the current Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU. There are two types of organ donation: deceased donation and living donation. Organ transplantation has become an established worldwide practice, and is seen as one of the greatest medical advances of the 20th century. Demand for organ transplantation is increasing, but a shortage of donors has resulted in high numbers ...

The CRISPR-Cas9 system currently stands out as the fastest, cheapest and most reliable system for ‘editing’ genes. It is seen as the biggest game changer in the field of gene editing due to its high degree of reliability, effectiveness and low cost. At the same time, the use of CRISPR has generated a series of socio-ethical concerns over whether and how gene editing should be used to make heritable changes to the human genome, to lead to designer babies, to generate potentially risky genome edits ...

Powerful new tools that have emerged in recent years have rendered DNA-editing technology more precise, more accessible and more affordable, allowing it to find new applications in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and energy. With its top-class academic institutions and strong biotechnology research, Europe is a driving force behind this 'synthetic biology revolution'. However, this innovative technology also poses serious risks arising from the unintended or intended effects of its use, and ...

Organoids are artificially grown organs that mimic the properties of real organs. What new possibilities for treating diseases, drug development, and personalised and regenerative medicine do organoids provide?

The aim of this study is to illustrate the different ways in which the current EU legislative framework may be affected by the digitisation and automation of farming activities and the respective technological trends. The study analyses the issues that might have to be dealt with, identifying the European Parliament committees concerned and the legislative acts that might need to be revisited, especially in view of the forthcoming Commission communication on the future of the Common Agricultural ...

The 3D-printing sector has proven its commercial viability in recent years, reaching the high street and, indeed, many homes. The technology is already used in some medical domains, such as dentistry and prosthetics, and many scientists are now exploring methods of printing biological materials – even if reports about lifesaving 3D-printed hearts are certainly premature.

Synthetic biology is expected to begin to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally occurring biological systems. Applications of synthetic biology in the healthcare domain hold great promise, but also raise a number of questions. What are the benefits and challenges of this emerging field? What ethical and social issues arise from this engineering approach to biology?