Mitochondrial Replacement “three-parent IVF” set for UK go-ahead

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Artificially inseminated babies created from the genes of three people could be a reality as early as 2014, with the UK the first to approve so-called mitochondria replacement to prevent inheritable diseases. The controversial procedure involves transferring the genetic material from two parents into an egg from another woman; by removing the donor egg’s nucleus, and replacing it with the parents’ nucleus, the risk of inherited defects that could have otherwise been passed down to the baby is removed. However, thefact that the child will have DNA from three parents, not two – albeit only around 0.1-percent from the woman who donated the egg – has some genetic modification opponents angry, given IVF embryos are destroyed in the process.


Mitochondria replacement is promising, because it opens the door to stripping away mitochondrial disorders, which affect around one in 6,500 people, and include heart conditions and muscular dystrophy. The mitochondria are the sources of chemical power in the cells, but if not functioning correctly can leave developing babies short-changed for energy, and as a result health issues.

Where the replacement therapy steps in is in switching out the faulty mitochondria for fully-functioning alternatives. The donor egg’s mitochondria has its own genetic material, and so while the bulk of the baby’s DNA is that of its parents, from the transplanted nucleus, the all-important “cellular power packs” lack those flaws found in the parents’ versions.

Written By: Chris Davies
continue to source article at slashgear.com

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      • In reply to #28 by NoKiddingMan:

        In reply to #2 by Agrajag:

        Do these embryos have 3/2 of a soul? ;-)

        There will be conflict between mitochondrial soul and nuclear soul for sure ;)

        Obviously a soul-searching agenda item for a bishops’ conference on “etherial biology” and “immaterial physics”!

        Meanwhile in medical science research . . . . ..

  1. It is similar to the cloning process , i.e nucleus replacement. And there is a lot of evidence of clones not being very healthy and I do know clones are grown from specialised cell nuclei as opposed to fertilised egg cell nuclei.

    Could look to a sceptic as an attempt by scientists to perfecting human cloning technology.

    • In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

      It is similar to the cloning process , i.e nucleus replacement. And there is a lot of evidence of clones not being very healthy and I do know clones are grown from specialised cell nuclei as opposed to fertilised egg cell nuclei.

      I know what you mean, but I thought that many of the problems with artificial clones are due to it being adult cell cloning, so
      you have DNA that has already been through many replications ie aged. In this case you have a nucleus from an egg cell, which is haploid, and will be fertilised with a normal sperm cell, so no need for the electric shock treatment that stimulates cell division. In other words it’s much more akin to IVF, which has become quite commonplace. The nuclear transfer bit is not the cause of damage.

      • TenderHooligan

        To me I don’t know how they could roll this out in a financially feasible way. This is meticulous stuff , far removed from ivf where your are simply fertilising an egg , outside the womb and just implanting it.

        Listen I don’t even know if I’m against this , it just seems to me that, it is in the area of cloning and perfecting this technology. Like I said it’s hard to see these people rolling this out in any practical way. If I’m wrong fair enough.

        In reply to #5 by TenderHooligan:

        In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

        It is similar to the cloning process , i.e nucleus replacement. And there is a lot of evidence of clones not being very healthy and I do know clones are grown from specialised cell nuclei as opposed to fertilised egg cell nuclei.

        I know what you mean, but I thought that…

        • *In reply to [#7]
          Hi Pauly. I think removing one nucleus and replacing it with another is fairly straightforward. It’s very different from persuading an adult specialised cell to revert to being a stem cell, so that it can develop into any specialised cell after the electroshock treatment. Personally I think it’s brilliant that we are doing it here in Britain. I just wish journalists wouldn’t propagate this 3 parent thing. After all, mitochondria were in all likelihood originally free living bacteria which were incorporated into eukaryotic cells, allowing them to do aerobic respiration. Effectively this makes every eukaryotic organism have 3 parents, as the mitochondria replicate, and are inherited separately, without any input from the male parent anyway. I like to think of my mitochondria as separate symbiotic organisms in my cells, but I’m probably a bit weird.

          • I never heard someone speak so warmly about Mitochondria before :)
            In reply to #8 by TenderHooligan:

            *In reply to [#7]
            Hi Pauly. I think removing one nucleus and replacing it with another is fairly straightforward. It’s very different from persuading an adult specialised cell to revert to being a stem cell, so that it can develop into any specialised cell after the electroshock treatment. Personall…

  2. I watched an interview on the BBC today with a woman who carried the mitochondrial defect. She lost six babies in infancy and the seventh died at 21 after a life of disability. You could argue (perhaps somewhat callously) why did she carry on trying to have kids, but anything that helps avoid that sort of heartbreak – and which passes on the “corrected” genes to the children – is surely to be welcomed.

    Why shouldn’t we play god? The original doesn’t seem to be making a very good job of it.

  3. Removing genetic defects from the population!
    That’s obviously too much of a benefit to humanity for the dogma-nuts to bear!!
    According to the news some of them are barking already.
    (That’s as in “mouthing off”! – we already know they are “barking” in other respects!)

  4. I heard one objector on the news saying that he didn’t like this development because we should love all children unconditionally.

    That’s undoubtedly true, but isn’t it also a sign of love to do our best to give every child the best possible chance of a healthy life?

    • In reply to #10 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      I heard one objector on the news saying that he didn’t like this development because we should love all children unconditionally.

      That’s kind of sick, like saying you shouldn’t repair a heart defect in a baby because you should love the child as it is.

  5. Genetic recipe..

    other than that well enough done!

    ” has some genetic modification opponents angry, “

    Aside from not understanding the origin of mitochondria ( explained by TenderHooligan ), the mechanism of mitochondria and the fact that nuclear DNA now contains most of the former in the mitochondria genes, these people are on their usual obstructionist program for the silliest ideological reasons.

    This will help people, merchants of woo!

  6. I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … I know I am going to get a lot of hostility for saying that, but if humans apply that to every other species, it should have the decency to have the same standard apply to itself.

    • In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

      I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … I know I am going to get a lot of hostility for saying that, but if humans apply that to every other species, it sho…

      ” Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. “

      How do you intend to go about doing that?

      • In reply to #13 by Neodarwinian:

        In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

        I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … I know I am going to get a lot of hostility for saying that, but if humans apply that to every other species, it sho…

        ” Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. “

        How do you intend to go about doing that?

        It’s doable, if you’re determined enough:

        Eugenics/Sexual Sterilizations in North Carolina;

        Victims speak out about North Carolina sterilization program, which targeted women, young girls and blacks

        • Where would it all stop. How about other heritable diseases
          predisposition to mental illness, cancer and heart disease.

          Although I do think that anyone with a likelihood of passing on severe disease should think twice.

          In reply to #14 by Katy Cordeth:

          In reply to #13 by Neodarwinian:

          In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

          I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … I know I am going to get a lot of hostility for s…

        • In reply to #14 by Katy Cordeth:

          In reply to #13 by Neodarwinian:

          In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

          I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … I know I am going to get a lot of hostility for s…

          I’ll pass on that!

    • In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

      I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing. … if humans apply that to every other species, it should have the decency to have the same standard apply to itself.

      Out of interest, where do you stand on the whole process of assisted conception e.g. artificial insemination, IVF, ICSI? Humans don’t generally breed other humans for show :P

    • In reply to #12 by old-toy-boy:

      I am all for removing genetic defects from the population! but this is a very wasteful way to achive it. Far better and simpler to just stop those with bad genes from reproducing.

      The problem is, how do you assess who has “bad genes”? I think there are cases where we can (almost) all agree, Down’s syndrome, for instance. But some would say a genetic tendency to homosexuality qualifies as “bad genes”, for instance. Crude class and racial prejudices have also been used as selective criteria.

      There’s also a risk of increased genetic homogeneity, with inobvious and unknown but useful genetic traits lost in favour of known and obvious ones. However, I think the problem is one of governance and current democratic systems, not the technology. Like current nuclear power technology, it may be that the existing systems ( e.g. capitalism with mandated profits, that is driven by finance and that is insufficiently controlled ) don’t work well enough to make it desirable, having no inherent drive to responsiveness to long-term consequences.

  7. There are thousands of kids who need loving parents. Yet couples leave them on the shelf and jump through the biggest hoops just to have babies that look like them. It is so vain, though admittedly Darwinian. We have far more than enough babies already. If I were dictator the universe, I would ban such technology until all the existing kids had homes and we had the world population down to a sustainable level.

    • *In reply to #18 by Roedy

      Despite our ability to analyse this, and realise that you have a point, humans are just like any other living thing. The desire to propagate your own genes runs deep, and is part of a basic drive for life. In this case it is the desire to have a baby that is free of a devastating defect, not just a cosmetic desire for the perfect child.

      • *In reply to most of the people here,

        The ugly word is eugenics, the polite words are selective breeding. Consider this, If the human race had a policy of stopping all people with bad genes, how long would it take to wipe out all hereditary despises from the planet? Second question, do we owe this to future generations?

        • In reply to #20 by old-toy-boy:

          *In reply to most of the people here,

          The ugly word is eugenics, the polite words are selective breeding.

          Or the way I see it …..we are not changing the genes, we are just changing the faulty batteries.

          • For “despises” read diseases (sorry),

            In reply to #21 by TenderHooligan:

            Or the way I see it …..we are not changing the genes, we are just changing the faulty batteries.

            Very nice analogy. to continue the same analogy, you cannot change all the bad batteries in all the people, I say we should shut down the factory that makes bad batteries.

          • old toy boy
            You can’t force people to not have sex and you can’t forcefully sterilise people. What kind of state would that be? Totalitarian
            This is so small a problem , it’s not worth doing anything about.

            Unless you are about to lump all the people who had family histories of Cancer, Heart Problems and Mental illness , in with people who pass on serious heritable disease.

            Define what you mean as genetically unhealthy?

            In reply to #22 by old-toy-boy:

            For “despises” read diseases (sorry),

            In reply to #21 by TenderHooligan:

            Or the way I see it …..we are not changing the genes, we are just changing the faulty batteries.

            Very nice analogy. to continue the same analogy, you cannot change all the bad batteries in all the people, I say we should s…

  8. I see no problem with these techniques. The nuclear DNA is preserved and the mito DNA is replaced. Hopefully, we will hear finalized results. Thanks to all great scientists for doing this.

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