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Life sciences/Genetics/Molecular genetics/Epigenetics/Gene transfer

“Synthetic biology”—the process of fundamentally altering life or creating new life forms—offers “mind-boggling” possible benefits to humanity, but they must be weighed against bioterrorism and others risks that remain largely unknown and difficult to define, bioethicist Thomas H. Murray said at AAAS.

“If I didn’t think the potential benefits… were massive, there would be no point in having this conversation,” said Murray, president and chief executive officer of the Hastings Center. “We should just not do it.”

Traditionally, cheating in sports through doping has been enabled mostly by advances in pharmacology. But as new methods of genetic modification emerge, both the scientific and the sports communities are becoming increasingly aware that gene therapy—the insertion of genes into an individual’s cells and tissues—will make its way onto the playing field.