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Old 24 February 2015, 09:07 PM
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Icon220 UK approves three-person babies

The UK has now become the first country to approve laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31594856

If you want to know more then this interactive BBC video might help:

http://bbc-vip.touchcast.com/embed/19730?autoplay=1
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  #2  
Old 24 February 2015, 09:14 PM
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I am usually fairly liberal, even for a British person, when it comes to these sort of matters, but even I have my doubts over this one. If it works then it is great, but it raises too many safety and ethical issues.

Does it work?
What if it goes wrong?
Are there any unexpected consequences?
Will this be the start of 'designer babies'?

Finally. Am I the only one thinking of 'Zager and Evans' song In the Year 2525?

Quote:
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
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  #3  
Old 24 February 2015, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
Will this be the start of 'designer babies'?
Doubtful, as the article points out, mitochondria are not involved with anything that we think of as genetic makeup. IANAG, but I doubt any kind of standard genetic test would even be able to tell that a person resulting from this procedure was not a two parent child.
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Old 24 February 2015, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew of Ware View Post
Does it work?
What if it goes wrong?
Are there any unexpected consequences?
I'm not sure how many of these procedures have been done, since it's only just been approved now, but it appears that the technique has been attempted previously and works. There's not a whole lot of technical difference between this and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which is a procedure which is performed successfully all over the world. Of course, now that the technique has been approved, there will be a lot more research before it is offered universally in the UK, which will answer a lot of the questions regarding consequences or side effects. (That said, it's a technique that will only be of benefit to women who are carriers of mitochondrial diseases - so it will still be very rare.)

Quote:
Will this be the start of 'designer babies'?
I don't see why. None of the DNA involved is being modified in any way. The child still has the unchanged nuclear genetic makeup of its biological parents, plus the unchanged mitochondrial DNA of the donor mother. The donor is being screened only for the mitochondrial disease in question (and her eggs are not being selectively chosen or modified at all) and the parents' nuclear DNA is not being screened for any particular attributes. (The only way to do so using this technique would be to have a target gene in mind and screen out all the eggs/ sperm that have an undesirable copy of that gene- way more involved that what's being proposed here, and probably not even technically possible at this moment in time.) Choosing a traditional egg or sperm donor based on their health status, race, physical features or other attributes is a lot closer to making a "designer baby" and you can bet that happens all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
IANAG, but I doubt any kind of standard genetic test would even be able to tell that a person resulting from this procedure was not a two parent child.
Only if someone was specifically extracting the mtDNA and testing that, and also comparing it to the mother's mtDNA. Most genetic tests that the public is aware of are performed on nuclear DNA.

Last edited by Beejtronic; 25 February 2015 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 25 February 2015, 12:12 AM
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Some good detailed info about mitochondrial disorders here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1224/

Table 1 provides a good overview of the various syndromes which can be traced back to defects in one's mitochondrial DNA.
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Old 25 February 2015, 12:18 AM
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Thanks for the replies. The report did say that the first couples may be offered the treatment by the end of the year (the laws do not come into effect until October). If it helps even a few people then it will be worth it. I do wonder, though, if other countries will watch what happens in the UK before approving it. Of course, any possible side effects may not be known for some years. However, if you never try it, you'll never know.
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Old 25 February 2015, 01:50 AM
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Andrew, I don't think your concerns are invalid. This isn't like treating a disease, where you try to correct a genetic problem or fight an invasive organism, this is an medically extraneous modification to healthy tissue for the sake of the parents. And while I certainly understand the parental desire behind it, as you said, there could be side effects we don't know about that could take a huge emotional toll on those same parents if something went wrong years down the road.

Without knowing the complete cost, it's hard to know if something is "worth it." Like you said, if you don't try, you'll never know, but I hope our scientific knowledge is significant enough to pull it off safely.
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Old 25 February 2015, 02:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Pink Pill View Post
This isn't like treating a disease, where you try to correct a genetic problem or fight an invasive organism, this is an medically extraneous modification to healthy tissue for the sake of the parents.
Where are you getting this? The article spells out exactly which genetic problem this procedure is intended to correct.

-Tabby
the princess with claws
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Old 25 February 2015, 03:34 AM
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From an article I skimmed earlier and the OP article that I didn't read at all. I'm so sorry, ignore me and carry on. If I could begin to unravel my mixup, I would.
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  #10  
Old 25 February 2015, 04:24 AM
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I do think there is still an ethical dilemma though. You have a donor egg available without the mitochondrial disease. Then you are undertaking a procedure with unknown side effects to replace the DNA in that egg with the mother's nuclear DNA, so that she can be (mostly) the child's genetic parent. As someone who couldn't have a child who would be both mine and my partner's genetically, I understand the difficulty of accepting that sad fact. But I do question whether it is so important that one would put one's potential offspring at this sort of unknown risk to achieve it.
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  #11  
Old 26 February 2015, 02:32 AM
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When I read the OP title, I thought of a case I read a while back when, well, a woman wanted a kid, but was unable to have one, so she enlisted the help of two of the (future kid's) aunts. One Aunt donated an egg, husband donated the sperm, and the second aunt carried the baby to term. As I recall, the kid was okay with it. Had no problem telling people that he was born from Aunt Ann's egg in Aunt Kathy's tummy. Is that what British law is referring to when they talk about "Three person babies"?
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