PerspectiveESSAY

Managing cell and human identity

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Science  14 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6334, pp. 139-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan2763

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Summary

Scientific discoveries and new technologies that aim to improve human health challenge our understanding of what it means to be human. Perceptions of being and the boundaries between humans and other species may be disrupted by our potential to manipulate genes and their expression, regulate cellular functions, and replace tissues to improve the quality of life. As we gain a greater understanding of genetic complexity, molecular mechanisms, and cellular and tissue functions, technologies aimed at modifications could, in theory, also be applied to enhance our physical and cognitive abilities. How can the normative and historical discourse about human identity help us decide if, how, and when to use genetic, stem cell, and reproductive technologies that may change characteristics of our cells and thus, perhaps, our individual and human identities (1)?