Why the Title “Lost in Translation?”

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The title of this blog derives from that of my book on the ethics of human gene transfer research, which is contracted with Cambridge University Press.

As the title suggests, the translation of gene transfer into clinical application has not gone as smoothly as predicted.  The word “lost” is not intended to suggest incompetence, or blanket moral culpability on the part of gene transfer researchers, nor to disparage the field in particular.  My thesis is that nearly all parties to gene transfer research– ethicists, patient advocates, members of the public, news organizations, policy-makers, and researchers– have in a sense been lost in appreciating the distinctive ethical, policy, social, and scientific challenges in making gene transfer a reality.

There’s another way in which the title is intended.  Many of the ethical frameworks and principles for evaluating human experiments were derived with randomized controlled trials in mind.  These concepts often apply awkwardly to the setting of the highly technical first-in-human experiment. In a sense then, the research ethics has been lost in translating approaches from the controlled clinical trial to the exploratory, early phase human study.

BibTeX

@Manual{stream2008-183,
    title = {Why the Title “Lost in Translation?”},
    journal = {STREAM research},
    author = {Jonathan Kimmelman},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2008,
    month = feb,
    day = 15,
    url = {http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/15/why-the-title-lost-in-translation/}
}

MLA

Jonathan Kimmelman. "Why the Title “Lost in Translation?”" Web blog post. STREAM research. 15 Feb 2008. Web. 17 Oct 2019. <http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/15/why-the-title-lost-in-translation/>

APA

Jonathan Kimmelman. (2008, Feb 15). Why the Title “Lost in Translation?” [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/15/why-the-title-lost-in-translation/


What is Gene Transfer?

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In this blog, I define gene transfer as the use of genetic materials or genetically modified organisms for therapeutic or research purposes.  This is a much broader definition than typical.  For instance, the American Society of Gene Therapy defines gene therapy as “…an approach to treating disease by either modifying the expressions of an individual’s genes or correction of abnormal genes.”  My definition would include gene-marking protocols (whereby a patient’s cells are genetically modified not for therapeutic purposes, but instead so that researchers can track their growth or location in the body).  My definition also includes the administration of genetically modified organisms– like genetically modified gut flora—for therapeutic purposes.  My definition also includes vaccines made by genetically modifying viruses; several of these are presently being tested against cancer and HIV.

BibTeX

@Manual{stream2008-186,
    title = {What is Gene Transfer?},
    journal = {STREAM research},
    author = {Jonathan Kimmelman},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2008,
    month = feb,
    day = 7,
    url = {http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/07/what-is-gene-transfer/}
}

MLA

Jonathan Kimmelman. "What is Gene Transfer?" Web blog post. STREAM research. 07 Feb 2008. Web. 17 Oct 2019. <http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/07/what-is-gene-transfer/>

APA

Jonathan Kimmelman. (2008, Feb 07). What is Gene Transfer? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.translationalethics.com/2008/02/07/what-is-gene-transfer/


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