Creeping, Creeping: Update on Three-Parent IVF

A few days ago I wrote about the possibility that we are creeping towards some form of brave new world as various genetic testing options become more feasible.   I’ve an update for an earlier story that follows along with that post.

I’ve written several times about three-parent IVF.  The idea is that mitochondrial DNA from one woman is used in conjunction with the nuclear DNA of a second woman as well as sperm from a man.   This could be useful where the nuclear DNA provider carries flawed mitochondrial DNA, which could cause a variety of diseases.   Anyway, they’ve been studying the process in Britain, focussing on the question of whether it is ethical.

The answer, offered by Nuffield Council  on Bioethics, is that it is.      If you prefer press coverage you can find that as well.

I am not sure I have much to add to what I’ve said before (see link above), except that you can see this, too, as a small step towards genetically engineering new human beings.   Indeed, the whole point of this procedure would be to create a genetically unproblematic embryo–and that could be seen as eugenics.    Here’s a look at one set of arguments against the procedure and you can see the eugenics point being raised down towards the bottom of the essay.

One response to “Creeping, Creeping: Update on Three-Parent IVF

  1. Julie – I find it problematic and would not want to see it happen. Having said that.

    The first link – Nuffiled Counsel sounds logical and long-term research is applicable but it is still flawed.

    The last link where it is broken into cons vs pro’s presents more to chew on. I did take exception to this statement in the pro’s by Geoff Watts:

    “Some are concerned that the child’s parentage might be uncertain; any children born following their use would have a genetic connection to three people. But let us be clear: mitochondrial donation does not mean, either biologically or legally, that the child has a “third parent”. One tenth of 1% of the child’s DNA would come from the donor – none of it determining features other than normal energy production. The remaining 99.9% would come from their two parents.”

    In that statement he is trying to allay the fears of the third parent by stating that 99.9% of the genes come from the egg and sperm donors and the MTdna is pretty much just a few grains of sand. I take exception because the nuclear dna is a random selection process – you end of with 50% from each parent but which 50% of each set of genes – luck of the draw – and there are many common genetic sequences found in any population or racial segment and between racial segments.

    Mitrochondrial dna does not work that way – you get the whole lot intact and it is unique to other family lineages.

    Where the MTdna is unique to the entire lineage.

    “For resolving questions of identity in human rights contexts, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is especially powerful, for several reasons. First, one purely maternal relative can provide information about an entire lineage. This is possible because a mother transmits her mtDNA sequence to all her children, male and female. Therefore, each person shares their mtDNA sequence with their mother, sisters, brothers, maternal aunts and uncles, maternal grandmother and her brothers and sisters, and so on.”

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