Three Biological Parents for One Baby? It's Possible, and Parliament Will Vote on Its Legality Soon
Oh man, when the "traditional family" people hear about this, they are going to flip out. Scientists have developed a way to create a baby using genetic material from three parents, and it's advanced enough that Parliament is voting soon on whether to make the U.K. the first country to legalize the procedure. Did you need any more evidence that we're living in the future?As weird as scientists can be sometimes, they didn't just decide to make a baby with three parents for the hell of it. The procedure is intended for parents whose children would be at high risk for mitochondrial disease, which is a group of incurable illnesses resulting in poor muscle growth, muscle weakness, loss of vision and/or hearing, and a variety of other miserable-sounding symptoms. The mitochondria, as you may recall, is the powerhouse of the cell, which means that people suffering from the disease don't have enough energy to support their bodies. Because mitochondria are passed on from mother to child, scientists figured out a way to prevent mitochondrial disease by implanting a healthy organelle from a donor woman, BBC News reports. Doesn't sound too weird, right? Well, for those of you who fell asleep in this part of high school biology, the mitochondria actually houses a little bit of DNA, so the baby created from this procedure would technically have genetic material from three people.
<img alt="mind blown animated GIF " src="http://media.giphy.com/media/12KTmsCbWqS1Y4/giphy.gif" class="article-body-image" title="Image: http://media.giphy.com/media/12KTmsCbWqS1Y4/giphy.gif"/>There are two ways to do the procedure: pronuclear transfer and spindle transfer. Pronuclear transfer involves fertilizing two eggs, one from the intended mom and one from the donor, and adding the genetic material (contained in the pronucleus) from the mom's egg to the donor embryo. Spindle transfer is the opposite; the mom's DNA is transferred to the donor's egg, then the egg is fertilized.There are obviously some ethical questions raised by the procedure, which is why there are plenty of proposed regulations if it is legalized. According to the BBC:
- The fertility regulator must assess each case for a significant risk of disability or serious illness
- Fertility clinics would need a new licence to offer the technique
- The woman donating her egg would not be related to the child
- Any child born would have no right to information about the donor
The Newcastle scientists who developed it are, naturally, pretty stoked that they might be performing the procedure sometime soon (soon in science-time, which is about 300 times slower than normal time), telling BBC News that "it's a long process but it's great news." Opponents are far less enthusiastic, claiming that this is the beginning of the slippery slope to a Huxley-style dystopia filled with "designer babies."Parliament is expected to vote on the issue in May 2015, and researchers are hoping to begin performing the procedure by the end of the same year.
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