MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law

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MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law

Postby AJRC » 26 Feb 2015, 05:47

MPs have voted in favour of making Britain the first country in the world to permit IVF babies to be created using biological material from three different people to help prevent serious genetic diseases.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015 ... embryo-law

Got to take my hat off too them, they faced a lot of opposition from the pro-lifers/christians but science won through. No longer will people have to watch their children suffer with mitochondrial disease. Our government has been pretty useless these past 5 years but at least they've done something right.
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Re: MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law

Postby Ice.Maiden » 26 Feb 2015, 16:18

Yes, I agree with you - up to a point.

Mitochondrial disease's passed on to about 1 in every 200 children, but most of these'll show no symptoms. For the children who could end up blind or suffer from other results of the condition, 3 person embryos sound to be a wonderful preventative answer to the problem.

However, mitochondria contain their own genes in their own set of DNA. It means any babies produced would contain genetic material from three people. The vast majority would come from the mother and father, but also mitochondrial DNA from the donor woman, at something like 0.02%.

What you have in effect, is not just an embryo without the problems it might develop, but the possibility of that small amount of DNA causing something else. So far, years of research seem to indicate that all will be well. Let's hope so, because no one can foresee what might happen to the future generations spawned by the 3-person baby.

In itself, it sounds excellent. Who'd willingly want their child to suffer? Having said that, only about 2500 children're born with this debilitating disease, which's far less than others born with equally-horrible problems.

So then we move on to all the other diseases which we might be able to eradicate. So far so good, if it works, but children born from a 3-person embryo don't actually belong to their parents. They belong to a third party as well. Do you tell that child how they came to be? Would they feel incomplete, or like an experiment? Apparently they won't ever be able to find out who that third person was, but I think, like many adopted children, the need to know runs deep.

I've heard all the arguments relating to the cell death of 2 prospective babies in order to create a healthy one, and really can't answer that. It's an ethical dilemma which I'm sure the scientists and doctors've debated considerably, but I just hope that all this won't open a can of worms.
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Re: MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law

Postby AJRC » 04 Mar 2015, 10:03

The people who have had children suffer this disease have been asking for this for years, the poor parents have had to wade through a lot of red tape put there by the religious right to stop the 'three-person embryo'. This hasn't just been a quick fix, this has been argued for a long time.

You have to remember that this won't be left to chance/nature, the embryo will be genetically altered to make it virtually impossible to pass on mitochondrial. It won't eradicate it, but it will give people who were certain to pass this disease on a chance at a happy future.
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Re: MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law

Postby Ice.Maiden » 04 Mar 2015, 12:56

I hear what you're saying, but the disease's more complex than just genetically changing the embryo. As a Doctor Parikh explained when questions about MD were being put to him: "Some individuals have an inherent mitochondrial vulnerability or problem with how their mitochondria work - and the symptoms accumulate over time. Since we have a thousand mitochondria in each cell and a trillion cells - we literally have a gazillion mitochondria. In mitochondrial disease, a person may have a certain percentage of a gazillion not working - if it is a small percentage - their symptoms may not begin until later in life or be 'milder.'

Mitochondria are also very vulnerable to damage from other diseases (diabetes), medications (chemotherapy) and toxins (smoking). In these situations, a person may have mitochondrial issues show up after chronic exposure to these offending conditions/agents."

There are different forms of the disease, which affect people in different ways, from ear problems to something much worse. Not all mitrochondria's bad, and so at the moment, only embryos from known heredatary sources can be treated. If the new technique prevents the mutation from affecting just a handful of babies, then this has to be good.

I'm not bothered about the religious implications. I see all scientific work to eradicate life-threatening diseases as a step forward, but at the same time, mitrochonria disorders can present themselves at any age, or, as in the case of haemophilia which's passed on by the mother, might NOT be passed on. I know a family where 2 out of 3 sons had the disease passed on to them. The third was fortunate, but one of the other two died in his teens.

All human cells have mitrochondria in them, except for red blood cells. Will the time come when every embryo's modified to prevent all possible diseases from being passed on? It'd be beneficial to eradicate the most severe problems, but as aforesaid, difficulties can present themselves later in life, such as diseases like muscular dystrophy. Certain types only affect males, and others produce mild symptoms which a person learns to live with.

People think that MD's a disease on its own, but it covers a myriad of illnesses caused be defective DNA, and which can basically affect the ATP in cells (the chemical which gives cellular energy).

This new development seems good to me, but what I'm saying Andy, is how far do we go, or when do we stop? If third person DNA becomes added to every embryo in the future - however small - we don't know if this'll effect future generations adversely. Critical questions about safety and efficacy haven't been answered, because no one actually knows.
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