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Biotech Medicine

UK Scientists Create a Three-Parent Embryo 201

Troll-Under-D'Bridge writes "The BBC reports that British scientists have manufactured embryos containing genetic material from a man and two women. Under the procedure developed by scientists from Newcastle University, the nuclei from a father's sperm and a mother's egg are transferred into a second woman's egg 'from which the nucleus had been removed, but which retained its mitochondria.' The research, which may 'help mothers with rare genetic disorders have healthy children,' used embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization treatment."
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UK Scientists Create a Three-Parent Embryo

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  • Not what you think (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:19PM (#31873114)

    One of the 'mothers' only contributes mitochondrial DNA, which does not affect any characteristics to the offspring.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frigga's Ring ( 1044024 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:19PM (#31873116)

    The research, which may 'help mothers with rare genetic disorders have healthy children...'

    I'd say that's a pretty good reason for this research.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zero_out ( 1705074 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:21PM (#31873156)
    The biological desire to procreate is ingrained in nearly every human being to ever live, and I am not talking about simple sexual gratification. It's an innate desire that we (nearly) all have. To deny it is akin to denying one's desire for safety and freedom. Sure, we CAN, but should we? I don't have an answer, and I'm not even sure what my own opinion is.
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GungaDan ( 195739 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:22PM (#31873160) Homepage

    I'd say not at all better than the people with rare genetic disorders being responsible and adopting if they insist on having kids. Insurance premiums will go up to cover the costs of this treatment so that people can have vanity kids instead of adopting one ready-made and otherwise unwanted.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:40PM (#31873392) Journal

    One problem with your theory - biology.

    Human reproduction is an instinct that drives human beings to pass on their own genetic material... not someone else's.

    'course, one could balance that against the human instinct to protect other children in a communal group, but I suspect the drive to have one's own baby is primary. Would make for an interesting philosophical discussion, but...

    I do agree with you - we're allegedly a rational species that can (not does, "can") place ourselves above base instincts and drives. Unfortunately, it's not just biology. Consider the fact that a full adoption is more often than not a years-long process (waiting lists, background checks, etc), requires a lot more effort to complete, and often costs more than whatever this particular treatment will cost? I'm thinking that most folks in that situation will just talk to the doctor and start asking female friends to act as egg donors.

  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Theuberelite ( 1786666 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:45PM (#31873458)
    Or you could just adopt. Wouldn't be much different would it? You're not having the baby yourself, and you're getting it out of another man's sperm and another woman's egg. The only difference is your mitochondria is present. All I can see it doing is allowing for there to be a relation between the parent and the child genetically, but how much is this going to change things? On top of that, I'm going to guess that this process will be really expensive, so who would want to pay for that sort of thing? I just can't see the point.
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:48PM (#31873488)

    One problem with your theory - biology.

    Human reproduction is an instinct that drives human beings to pass on their own genetic material... not someone else's.

    It's a new era and a brave new world. Just think of this as "genetic spoofing". If it's good enough for spammers it's good enough for future spam recipients.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:48PM (#31873492)

    There's a common moral squeamishness about deciding, for the greater financial good, who gets to precreate. It's a squeamishness I happen to share. If you're going to refuse to pay for their vanity kids, why pay for those of infertile couples? Why pay for a guy to store a sperm sample when he has a vascectomy? I guess it would take something like the US healthcare system to turn a free-market economy into a cold-war totalitarian nightmare.

  • by Naatach ( 574111 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:48PM (#31873498)
    As a parent who has gone through 7 years of infertility, I can say that I find religious objections to new fertility treatments unconscionable. The Church's belief that people who suffer from infertility should "accept the will of god" to be disgusting and akin to telling a cancer patient that they should do the same. The grief suffered by a couple with infertility diseases is as great of that of someone dying of a terminal illness. Imagine if someone stormed into your house, kidnapped your children, and you are powerless to do anything about it. Infertility evokes the same kind of emotions. Forbidding treatment on religious grounds adds insult to injury. In the end, we resolved our infertility by adopting.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:50PM (#31873518)

    Like it or not, there is a strong (instinctually enforced) tendency to want to pass on your own genes to the next generation. We are basically built at a basic level to want to live, eat, and reproduce. For many people that means having kids that are genetically their own.

    There's also the desire to have a kid that recognizes you as their parent. That can happen just fine with adopted children, but typically only if they're very, very young when adopted. Competition for adopting babies is pretty fierce.

    Also, adopting requires a LOT of justification and the like. There's a ton of paperwork determining whether or not you financially qualify, whether or not you're an appropriate match (ie, some people with certain health problems aren't allowed to adopt), or other factors (such as if the person is single. A single woman has a hell of a time adopting a child. A single man can pretty much forget about it). Having your own biological children simplifies this, as it takes a mountain of good cause and paperwork to remove a child from their parent. Pretty much the exact opposite of adoption.

    All in all, while a noble goal, the reality is that adoption simply isn't for everyone.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @12:52PM (#31873554) Journal
    Rates will only go up if Insurance companies are forced to cover this in their basic packages, I guess you're right rates will go up.
  • Re:Really? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:00PM (#31873666)

    I find nothing rational about humans with children. A new mother related to me has spent the last year trying to bubblewrap and sterilize the world. And she used to be so sensible. It's quite sad.

  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Antiocheian ( 859870 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:16PM (#31873874) Journal

    And then one could then argue that you have the right to sell what you manufacture.

    This kind of science has been known before and has been dealt with before.

  • so god is black? hmm...

    Well, many Rastafarians [] think Haile Selassie I was an incarnation of god, and they're no less likely to be right than any of the others....

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:57PM (#31874460) Homepage

    There's a common moral squeamishness about deciding, for the greater financial good, who gets to precreate.

    Sure, but it is just the next step after making people pay to raise other people's kids.

    If I have to pay for the care of somebody who is sick, or whatever, now suddenly I have a voice (like it or not) in whether such a person should be born in the first place. The only alternative is to give people a voice in whether to care for said kids after they are born, which is clearly less desirable as now the poor kid is suffering in neglect through no action of his own.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:01PM (#31874520)

    There is a shortage of families willing to adopt black children.

    It seems that people express at least to some degree a preference for children of their own colour. Now I'm not going to argue whether or not it would be beneficial for us to catch a mild case of the Williams syndrome with regards to our affinities to different strangers, but isn't the percentage of black children among all children more or less proportional to the percentage of all black people among all people? If that is the case, I would expect the number of childless black families willing to adopt a black child to be roughly the same (i.e., families per each kid).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:33PM (#31874986)

    My mother swears that she has never had intimate relations with a black man.

    I'm religious, so I've always considered it a gift directly from God. I think of Him as my Second Father.


  • Adoption? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markass530 ( 870112 ) <markass530@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday April 16, 2010 @02:37PM (#31875042) Homepage
    I applaud any science achievement, for whatever reason. However every-time I read a story like this, and octomom, etc the first thing that comes to mind is adoption. Yea I was adopted so that contributes to my feelings on the subject, but the whole "Need" to have YOUR kid, well it just seems ridiculous to me
  • by COMON$ ( 806135 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:33PM (#31875864) Journal
    Ok no offense here, but as an individual who loves kids and is infertile myself. (been trying for 4 years before finding out we were infertile). We will be adopting 4 kids over the next few years hopefully. However, there is a point when you have to stop and realize nature is telling you something. If you have a massive genetic disorder that keeps you from having children then perhaps you should adopt rather than continue the line of poor genes? Will our own narcissism be our undoing eventually as we pass on these traits to our children?

    In response to your Religious accusations, you have to remember most of these religious institutions do not have anything against new fertility treatments. But when you draw the line for humanity at conception, any fertility treatments that involve destroying embryos would be viewed with the same level of morality as people who kill babies after they are born. However, the Church would support it if the embryos were adopted out.

  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigitalCrackPipe ( 626884 ) on Friday April 16, 2010 @03:54PM (#31876150)
    That's not deciding who gets to procreate, that's deciding who should pay for it. I'm not sure there's a good argument that I should be paying for *anyone* to procreate. While it's up to insurers to decide what they want to subsidize, that gets a little murkier with the coming changes in the US healthcare system.

    The inability to differentiate between necessary and desireable medical treatments is a lot of where the healcare issue is rooted. It's a tough problem, but I don't believe real progress will be made until that tough issue is addressed.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"