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Three-parent babies  “threat to humanity”

New Scientist – “It’s more messy than we thought”

How it works - diagrams which help to explain 3-parent babies.

Leading international scientists are to warn a parliamentary inquiry that experiments to create babies with three genetic parents (known as mitochondrial replacement) are a risk to humanity and should not be allowed to go ahead. 4  

In a letter seen by the Sunday Times to the Commons science and technology committee, which is holding a one-day inquiry into three parent embryos on October 22, a group of scientists said: "The safety of mitochondrial replacement therapy is not yet established sufficiently well to proceed to clinical trials." 5  Imagenews will report on the results of the enquiry as new information comes to light.

In an article printed in New Scientist in March 2013 entitled, “Don't fear babies made with genes from three parents6  the argument in favour of mitochondrial replacement is clearly made.  “Mitochondria contain genes but make no contribution to the traits that make us human – personality, intelligence, appearance and so on. A donor would have no more right to claim parenthood than someone who gives blood. It may be that, in the end, mitochondrial transfer fails to get through human trials. But the ethical concerns need not be a barrier to trying.” 7

Professor Doug Turnbull, Director Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, has used this analogy, “What we've done is like changing the battery on a laptop. The energy supply now works properly, but none of the information on the hard drive has been changed.”

However, in the light of new research, new Scientist has recently published a new article, (18th September 2014), Three-parent babies: It's more messy than we thought.8

In the article they write, “Proponents argue … mitochondria and their genomes are purely functional, limited to producing energy and exerting no influence on appearance, personality, intelligence or other human attributes that we value.

“Now it appears that we may have seriously underestimated the influence that mitochondria have. Recent research suggests that they play a key role in some of the most important features of human life.  This raises the ethically troubling prospect – once widely dismissed, including by this publication, - that children conceived in this way will inherit vital traits from three parents.

Up to now, the debate in the UK has focused on safety and efficacy. These matter, of course. But they must now be joined by a serious debate about the ethics.”

4 http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Health/article1467333.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2014_10_04   (£)

5 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11141898/Three-parent-babies-are-genetic-engineering-and-be-banned.html#disqus_thread

6 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729093.400-dont-fear-babies-made-with-genes-from-three-parents.html#.VEOah_nF98E

7 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8619533.stm

8 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329871.600-threeparent-babies-its-more-messy-than-we-thought.html#.VEOWfvnF98F


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