Thursday

UK scientists have created "designer embryos"

Setting aside the moral implications of engineering children in a test tube; what are the unintended consequences? What will happen 10, 20, 50 or a 100 years down the road? We are treading into dangerous and uncharted waters when we tamper with DNA.

Humans are notoriously short sighted when it comes to science. We are more concerned with the immediate results than the long term considerations. It brings to mind a quote from Jurassic Park: Dr. Ian Malcolm - Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.

Should we? Maybe we should think back to all the things that seemed really good at the time and latter proved to be disastrous: Asbestos, DDT, malathion, nuclear weapons, and on and on....

I think J. Robert Oppenheimer had it right:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.'

The Sun reports the following:

UK scientists have created "designer embryos" containing DNA from a man and TWO women.

The breakthrough gives hope of healthy children to couples with genetic disorders in their families.

It also offers the prospect of eradicating fatal genetic diseases.

But the procedure - dubbed three person IVF - sparked controversy last night.

Researchers at Newcastle University set out to prevent damaged DNA in mitochondria - the "batteries" that power cells - from being passed on to offspring.

hey removed nuclei from the sperm and egg of affected couples, leaving behind the mitochondria.

The nuclei were put into one of the fertilised eggs left over after other women had IVF treatment.

This egg had its nuclei removed - but retained its healthy mitochondria.

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Eighty embryos were created but destroyed after eight days.

Lead researcher Professor Doug Turnbull said: "What we've done is like changing the battery on a laptop."

The scientists would need a special licence to culture embryos for longer periods and the procedure would currently be illegal in IVF clinics.

One in 200 British children born each year has a genetic mutation and some are fatal.

But opponent Josephine Quintavalle, of the anti-cloning group CORE, said: "They are creating a child with two mothers. We have to find better ways to cure diseases."

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