Due to medical advancement, it is now possible to replace a baby’s defective mitochondrial DNA with a healthy DNA from female donor’s egg through IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). This procedure developed by British scientists is currently banned, however the ministers are willing to change the law to prevent future diseases that may arise in children caused by defective mitochondria “ such as muscular dystrophy.
According to the article, mitochondrial disease is a glitch in the genes that act as batteries, powering each cell in the body. Defective mitochondria carried by mothers, can cause organ failures in the babies, as well as severe epilepsy or conditions such as muscular dystrophy “ in which a lot of children cannot be saved. Through In-Vitro Fertilization, however, it is very likely that the defective mitochondria is replaced with one of the female donor’s “ while maintaining the nuclei from the mother. I personally think that this advancement would be fundamentally beneficial to avoid catasthropic diseases, however it raised controversy because then the baby would have DNA from three people. It will possibly create identity confusion, especially if, say, the genes from the donor happens to be more dominant. Raising a genetically-altered child might be twice as challenging due to the explanations that parents need to be prepared for, as well as reacting/responding to the controversies.
Is it possible for the mitochondria DNA from female donor becomes more dominant than the mother’s DNA? Is there any possibility to kind of ˜pick-and-choose’ the characteristics one wants to admit from the mother, and the other from the donor?
There is a possibility that this may result in permanent change. How far down the matrilineal line would the donor’s DNA still show its characteristics?
If this were to be put into realization, I believe the cost will undoubtedly be high. Keeping this in mind, would this procedure create even a bigger gap between the rich and the not-haves, since only certain people with economic power can afford such medical treatment?
If the defect is on sperm’s mitochondria, would the same treatment be able to be applied to a male donor? In other words, the three parent babies’ will carry DNA of 1 female (the mom) and two males (the dad and the donor).
I personally think that this still needs a lot more research especially regarding safety. There is a possibility that the mitochondria from the donor’s egg becomes ˜unrecognizable’ when implanted back into the mother’s womb, and the article says that significantly negative impact would not be detectable until the babies are born.
Aside from that, however, the biggest issues that may arise due to legalization of the procedure are ethical issues. Knowing that genetics can be modified, people that are more economically powerful will lean towards the ˜designer babies’ trend. This procedure would be misuse, not just to eliminate the possibility of a disease, but also to alter features of the baby, such as gender, hair color, eye color, shape of the nose, height, and so on. My opinion personally, genetically altered babies will eliminate imperfections that makes us human, thus creating a very narrow perspective on beauty.
Moreover, I believe that when this were put into realization, both parties (medical professionals and prospective parents) need to be informed regarding the long term consequences. Replacing the mother’s mitochondrial DNA will not just affect her child, but since it is passed down, it will eventually be passed down to the 3rd, 4th, generation. In conclusion, this may have permanent effects, and some of the consequences may not be foreseen until then.
Balen, Beth. ˜Three-Parent Babies’ Could Be Born in Britain Next Year. Telegraph.co.uk.The Telegraph Media Group Limited. 27 Feb 2014. Web. 6 May 2014.