Friday, September 09, 2005

The Embryo Has Two Mommies

From the UK ... Scientists win right to create human embryo with three genetic parents: Critics claim that watchdog has ignored public opinion to approve experiment for which it changed its own rules

Again, Einstein said God doesn't play dice with the universe. Scientists, apparently, have no such qualms. Dr. Frankenstein, call your office. Quote!

BRITISH scientists have been given permission to create human embryos that will have three genetic parents.

The fertility watchdog cleared a team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne yesterday to conduct an experiment to prevent genetic disease by merging single-cell embryos with donated eggs.

The decision to approve the procedure on appeal, after two previous applications were rejected, is controversial because it could eventually lead to the birth of children who carry genes from two mothers and a father.

It also opens the possibility of “germ-line” genetic engineering, because any children born would carry added genes that would be passed to successive generations.

... and ...

About one in 5,000 people carry defects in the mitochondrial DNA. Most lead only to mild effects, but in rare cases defects can cause miscarriage, or fatal brain, liver and kidney damage in offspring. One patient the team hopes to help has had five miscarriages, and eventually gave birth to a child with profound brain damage.

Mitochondria are inherited from the mother. The team plans to replace defective mitochondria in eggs with working ones from donor eggs.

... more ...
This donated egg will contain healthy mitochondria, but none of the nuclear DNA that makes up most of the human genetic code.

But mitochondria contain 37 genes, so the embryo will have been created with a genetic contribution from three individuals — the father, the mother who provided the nucleus, and the donor who provided the mitochondria.

If the embryo grows into an adult woman, she would pass on the donated mitochondria to any children of her own, raising concerns about germ-line genetic manipulation.