Every baby has a mother and a father, right? As in one of each. Well, that may change soon, according to a new UK report.
In February, the FDA announced it was considering 3-parent embryos; while this would be an excellent way to stop some deadly diseases, it also raises many ethical questions, and the reaction (as usually) was mixed. The procedure is “not without its risks, but it’s treating a disease,” medical ethicist Art Caplan declared then – this technique could solve problems that having been plaguing families for generations.
“These little embryos, these are people born with a disease, they can’t make power. You’re giving them a new battery. That’s a therapy. I think that’s a humane ethical thing to do,” said Caplan, the director of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.
But if you go with this… where do you stop?
“Where we get into the sticky part is, what if you get past transplanting batteries and start to say, ‘While we’re at it, why don’t we make you taller, stronger, faster or smarter?’ “
Now, the UK announced it will likely make that step, and we might see three-parent babies in no more than three years.
Mitochondria are the powerplants of the human body; they produce 90% of your body’s energy! So it should’t surprise anyone that any genetic defect in the mitochondria has devastating consequences on the human body. Every 1 in 6.000 babies suffer from a type of mitochondrial defect, and there is no cure or treatment for that; the defect is transmitted only by the mother.
Now, in order to stop such conditions from developing, a new technique uses the nuclear DNA of the mother along with the mitochondrial DNA of a donor to create a perfectly healthy egg. The UK report concludes that if there are no major legal hurdless to surpass, the technique could be viable in two years.
There is just one downside – it’s impossible to gauge the safety of such a procedure until it is done – which is why the two years of testing are required. Following the release of this report, officials in the Department of Health will read and decide in the coming months whether or not to repeal current prohibitive regulations, allowing experimentation to begin.
So what do you think? Is this a wonderful idea which could save and drastically improve many lives? Or is it just the first step towards eugenics, changing people’s characteristics before they are even born? Personally, I’m leaning towards the first, but feel free to contradict me.