Three-parent embryo formed in lab

Scientists believe they have made a breakthrough in IVF treatment by creating a human embryo with three separate parents. The Newcastle University team believe the technique could help to eradicate a whole class of hereditary diseases, including some forms of epilepsy.

The embryos have been created using DNA from a man and two women in lab tests.

It could ensure women with genetic defects do not pass the diseases on to their children.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

6 comments on “Three-parent embryo formed in lab

  1. Newbie Anglican says:

    Some people would create two-headed babies and call it a scientific advance. This is ghoulish and Nazi-like.

  2. Catholic Mom says:

    This sounds bizarre (obviously the person who wrote the article would like it to stand out) but fundamentally this is no different (actually somewhat less extreme) then what you would get from any “gene therapy.” You have the genes from your mother, you have the genes from your father, when you add or substitute any other gene you are effectively creating a individual with THREE genetic origins.

    In this case, all they were dealing with were the mitochondria, so for all intents and purposes the resultant embryo would be identical to that created naturally by the same father and mother, except for the absence of genetic defects associated with the mitochondria.

    If you’re against all IVF, that’s one thing. But really, embryos created in this way would not have “three parents.” Just two — and someone who donated the mitochondria. All of the normal genetic traits such as appearance, personality, etc. would come just from mom and dad.

  3. Irenaeus says:

    Provides tie-breaker for family arguments.

  4. drummie says:

    Catholic Mom, you sound well educated, but I wonder if al of us are not missing something? For years medical research has come up with many glorious sounding breakthroughs that have become nightmares. Is this really safe? I don’t know. Is this something that we should do? I don’t know. What are we really trying to accomplish? Again, I don’t know. It does bother me when scientist start trying to create a different kind of life in the laboratory. I wish there were more Christian (orthodox) ethicists involved. This just seems troublesome at first thought.

  5. Catholic Mom says:

    drummie, I don’t disagree that these are difficult and serious issues that we need to think through carefully. Certainly, not everything that CAN be done, SHOULD be done. I just wanted to make the point that although the headline talks about “three parents” (like maybe someday this would be used so that three people can have a baby together) it’s really no more “three parents” than somebody who has undergone gene therapy. Of course, gene therapy is dangerous and needs to be closely watched as well. I would think the issue most religious people would have here would have to do with experimentation on embryos. (Or, more to the point, the creation of embryos that will be discarded.) Ultimately I think we’re going to find out that our most fruitful areas of research don’t require doing this anyway. I suspect it won’t be long before normal somatic (body) cells can be tricked into acting like embryos for this purpose. Where THAT will lead us will also require a lot of thought.

  6. jamesk says:

    This is a spin on a fairly old ART technique called cytoplasmic transfer. (just google it to get a background)
    Essentially, here they are just taking the fertilized nucleus out of the egg and transferring it to a presumably healthier unfertilized donor eqq from which the unfertilized nucleus has been removed. As the mitochondrial DNA exists in the cytoplasm, not in the nucleus, and as there is no male (sperm) contribution, it seems like a good way to approach the problem of inherited mitochondrial defects (here’s a page showing how devastating they can be)
    or of “stale” eggs in women who are unable to conceive otherwise.
    Infertility sucks, and I commend everyone’s efforts to remain sensitive to that.
    People will generally do whatever it takes to render themselves genetically relevant.