Genetic Enhancement

In bioethics, enhancement is the term used to describe interventions affecting the physical condition of a person which are not used for the purpose of treating a disease, but to enhance or bring about specific performance or characteristics. As in gene therapy as a whole, genetic enhancement can be differentiated between an application to somatic cells of an individual and an application to cells of the germline with the aim of enhancing the offspring. If the aim is to improve the performance of athletes, one also speaks of gene doping.

Although it is difficult to draw a clear line between genetic enhancement and preventive or therapeutic interventions in the human genome, such a differentiation is widely accepted. It was for instance included in the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Article 13). This is based on the insight that an ethical assessment is required not only for the choice of means, but also for the choice of goals in biomedicine.

Further information:

Fuchs, Michael (2013): Ethische Aspekte. In: Baum, Christopher / Duttge, Gunnar / Fuchs, Michael: Gentherapie. Medizinisch-naturwissenschaftliche, rechtliche und ethische Aspekte. Bd. 15 der Reihe Ethik in den Biowissenschaften – Sachstandsberichte des DRZE. Freiburg i. B.: Verlag Karl Alber, 110–115.

Europarat (1997): Übereinkommen zum Schutz der Menschenrechte und der Menschenwürde im Hinblick auf die Anwendung von Biologie und Medizin: Übereinkommen über Menschenrechte und Biomedizin. Online Version

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