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What if gene editing became routine practice?

16-10-2018

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 ...

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 or to disrupt entire ecosystems.

EYE event - The DNA revolution: We better talk this over

16-05-2018

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 ...

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 raises ethical concerns about the potential modification of the human genome. Can we minimise these risks, while enjoying the benefits of this new technology?

What if mini-brains could help us understand dementia?

05-12-2017

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?

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?

Precision agriculture in Europe:Legal, social and ethical considerations

13-11-2017

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 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 Policy (CAP). It also provides a series of overarching recommendations that EU actors may wish to take into account when dealing with precision agriculture. To do so, an analysis of the multiple ethical and legal challenges associated with precision farming technologies has been performed, along with a scanning of current legislation in a wide range of areas of EU policy-making, including agricultural policy and related fields, such as environment, health, food safety and climate change.

What if we could 3D-print our own body parts

10-11-2017

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.

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.

What if manmade biological organisms could help treat cancer?

08-09-2017

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?

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?

What if others could read your mind?

08-04-2016

Brain-computer interface technology has been advancing rapidly and will continue to do so as our knowledge of how the brain works increases. Could this transform our understanding of life as we know it? A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. This technology can be used to restore motor and sensory capacities which may have been lost through trauma, disease or congenital conditions. For example, combined with limb-replacement ...

Brain-computer interface technology has been advancing rapidly and will continue to do so as our knowledge of how the brain works increases. Could this transform our understanding of life as we know it? A brain-computer interface (BCI) is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. This technology can be used to restore motor and sensory capacities which may have been lost through trauma, disease or congenital conditions. For example, combined with limb-replacement technology, BCI may allow patients not only to move prosthetic limbs, but also to feel the sensation of touch. The technology can either be implanted (invasive) or used externally (non-invasive). Invasive BCIs, including neuroprosthetics and brain implants, are devices which connect directly to the brain and are placed on its surface or attached to the cortex. A key application area for contemporary brain implant research is the development of biomedical prostheses to circumvent areas of the brain that have become dysfunctional after a stroke or other trauma. With deep brain stimulation, a 'brain pacemaker' sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain for the treatment of disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia and major depression. Non-invasive BCIs consist of a range of technological devices which provide a similar interface between the brain and other machines without the need for surgery. There are several technologies capable of measuring and recording brain activity, although the signal quality may be weaker than is possible with implanted devices. Nonetheless, non-invasive BCIs have been used effectively, for example to control prosthetic hands.

Data Saves Lives: The Impact of the Data Protection Regulation on Personal Data Use in Cancer Research

15-01-2016

This report summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop on data saves lives, held at the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday 19 November 2015. The aim of the workshop was to provide background information and advice regarding the proposed General Data Protection Regulation and the impact it may have on the use of personal health data in cancer research. During the first part of the workshop the policy context and state of play of the proposed new Regulation were presented ...

This report summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop on data saves lives, held at the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday 19 November 2015. The aim of the workshop was to provide background information and advice regarding the proposed General Data Protection Regulation and the impact it may have on the use of personal health data in cancer research. During the first part of the workshop the policy context and state of play of the proposed new Regulation were presented. An update on the Trilogue discussions and latest amendments to the text of the Regulation were given; obstacles and opportunities for harmonisation of cancer data were also discussed. The second part of the workshop focused on the impact of the proposed Regulation on cancer research. Access to data, ethical standards, data storage, and a European project on cancer survival were covered during this session. All presentations highlighted the need for a broad consent (a one-time consent given by data subjects to allow the use of their data for a variety of research studies which are subject to strict criteria) in order to make cancer research possible. Finally, future developments based on the experience of healthcare providers, patients and the industries were discussed. Possible practical solutions were given that could solve the obstacles of the proposed Regulation faced by the cancer research community.

Autore esterno

Paola BANFI, Rachel DEMPSEY, Manon EMONTS and Hana SPANIKOVA

What if injections weren't needed anymore?

26-11-2015

Synthetic biology is expected to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally-occurring biological systems. What are the benefits of this emerging field? Are there any ethical and social issues arising from this engineering approach to biology?

Synthetic biology is expected to design, construct and develop artificial (i.e. man-made) biological systems that mimic or even go beyond naturally-occurring biological systems. What are the benefits of this emerging field? Are there any ethical and social issues arising from this engineering approach to biology?

In vitro diagnostic medical devices

20-11-2014

In vitro diagnostic medical devices are tests used on biological samples to determine the status of a person's health. The industry employs about 75 000 people in Europe, and generates some €11 billion in revenue per year. In September 2012, the European Commission (EC) published a proposal for a new regulation on in vitro diagnostic medical devices, as part of a larger legislative package on medical devices. The proposed legislation aims at enhancing safety, traceability and transparency without ...

In vitro diagnostic medical devices are tests used on biological samples to determine the status of a person's health. The industry employs about 75 000 people in Europe, and generates some €11 billion in revenue per year. In September 2012, the European Commission (EC) published a proposal for a new regulation on in vitro diagnostic medical devices, as part of a larger legislative package on medical devices. The proposed legislation aims at enhancing safety, traceability and transparency without inhibiting innovation. In April 2014, the European Parliament (EP) amended the legislative proposals to strengthen the rights of patients and consumers and take better into account the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Some stakeholders consider that a provision for mandatory genetic counselling interferes with the practice of medicine in Member States and violates the subsidiarity principle. Device manufacturers warn that the proposed three-year transition period may be too tight.

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