New health technologies are rapidly emerging from various areas of bioscience research, such as gene editing, regenerative medicine and synthetic biology. These technologies raise promising medical possibilities but also a range of ethical considerations. Apart from the issues involved in considering whether novel health technologies can or should become part of mainstream medical treatment once established, the process of research translation to develop such therapies itself entails particular ethical concerns. In this paper I use synthetic biology as an example of a new and largely unexplored area of health technology to consider the ways in which novel health technologies are likely to emerge and the ethical challenges these will present. I argue that such developments require us to rethink conventional attitudes towards clinical research, the roles of doctors/researchers and patients/participants with respect to research, and the relationship between science and society; and that a broader framework is required to address the plurality of stakeholder roles and interests involved in the development of treatments based on novel technologies.