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Friday, July 26, 2013

Man playing God: The dubious ethics of creating children with three genetic parents

The United Kingdom Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has been in the news for giving the go-ahead to creating three-genetic-parent human embryos.

An embryo has two types of DNA: central nucleus DNA inherited from both its mother and father, and mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) inherited only from its mother. This mDNA can be defective in that it carries genes for serious diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, or it cannot sustain the life of the cells it powers. The three-genetic-parent embryos would have a central nucleus with DNA from its intended mother’s ovum and father’s sperm, and mitochondrial DNA from another woman’s ovum.

The procedure involves creating an embryo from the intended mother’s ovum and father’s sperm, removing the nuclear DNA from the second woman’s ovum leaving behind the mDNA, and transferring the embryo’s central nuclear DNA to the enucleated ovum. The goal is to allow a woman with defective mDNA to have a baby who will inherit most of her genes, but not the defective mDNA.

Is using this procedure ethical?

h/t Brian Lilley

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