Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lab 'Creates' Human Life with 3 Biological Parents

Oregon scientists are creating human embryos by removing the nucleus of an egg from one woman and placing it into an egg from another woman, and then fertilizing the concocted egg with a man's sperm.  The resulting offspring thus has genetic material of three people.

For background, read Designer Babies with Three Biological Parents

UPDATE 2/19/14: Obama's FDA: Why not Three Biological Parents?

-- From "Oregon scientists make embryos with 2 women, 1 man" by Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press 10/24/12

The researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University said they are not using the embryos to produce children, and it is not clear when or even if this technique will be put to use. But it has already stirred a debate over its risks and ethics in Britain, where scientists did similar work a few years ago.

The British government is asking for public comment on the technology before it decides whether to allow its use in the future. One concern it cites is whether such DNA alteration could be an early step down a slippery slope toward "designer babies" — ordering up, say, a petite, blue-eyed girl or tall, dark-haired boy.

Questions have also arisen about the safety of the technique, not only for the baby who results from the egg, but also for the child's descendants.

Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., said in an interview that safety problems might not show up for several generations. She said she hopes the United States will follow Britain's lead in having a wide-ranging discussion of the technology.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Three-parent embryo could prevent inherited disease" by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist 10/25/12

This technique was trialled in four monkeys in 2009. They all gave birth to healthy offspring which are still going strong.

Now, Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton, and his colleagues have fused human eggs using a similar technique. Mitalipov extracted the nucleus from 65 eggs and replaced each one with the nucleus from another donor egg.

The team then fertilised the eggs and let them grow into a ball of about 100 cells called a blastocyst. This takes about five or six days and is normally around the time that such a fertilised egg would become implanted into the womb. Of the 65 donated eggs that were fertilised, 48 per cent grew into healthy-looking blastocysts. Their development was similar to that of 33 unaltered fertilised eggs.

Just over half of the eggs in the study developed abnormally.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Scientists in Oregon Create Embryos With Three Genetic Parents" by Rebecca Taylor, 10/25/12

Why would scientists want to engineer an embryo with the genetic material from three people? Because they say it will “prevent” the inheritance of mitochondrial disease. Not all of our DNA that we inherit is in the nuclei of the egg and sperm that join at fertilization. In the cytoplasm of our mother’s egg are mitochondria. Mitochondria have their own DNA called mtDNA. We inherit our mtDNA only from our mother because sperm’s mitochondria are dumped at conception. There are genetic mutations that cause very serious disease found in mtDNA and a woman with a such a mutation cannot help but pass this mutation on to her children.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.