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Thread: The ethics of three-person IVF

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    Question The ethics of three-person IVF

    I've come across this article from BBC News : Warning of three-person IVF 'risks'

    The debate was launched by scientists from the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex in England, and Monash University in Australia. Here is what it is about.

    Quote Originally Posted by BBC News
    Mitochondria are the tiny, biological "power stations" that provide nearly every cell, which make up the body, with energy. They are passed from a mother, through the egg, to her child.

    But if the mother has defective mitochondria then it leaves the child starved of energy, resulting in muscle weakness, blindness and heart failure. In the most severe cases it is fatal and some families have lost multiple children to the condition.

    The proposed therapy aims to replace the defective mitochondria with those from a donor egg.

    But mitochondria have their own DNA, albeit a tiny fraction of the total. It means a baby would have genetic information from mum, dad and a second woman's mitochondria.

    The concerns raised - by scientists at the University of Sheffield, the University of Sussex and Monash University in Australia - are about a poor match between the mitochondrial DNA and that from the parents.

    They said there was an interaction between the DNA in the mitochondria and the rest which is packaged in a cell's nucleus.

    Their studies on fruit flies suggested that a poor match of genetic information between the nucleus and mitochondria could affect fertility, learning and behaviour.

    ...

    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, commissioned a review into the safety of the technique.

    Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, who was on the review panel, disagreed. He said humans had diverse mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, so any consequences of poor matches would have already become apparent.

    He told the BBC news website: "Humans are breeding between races and producing healthy children all the time. If there is an effect then it must be very trivial as it's not been noticed."

    I completely agree with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on this. There shouldn't be any risk for a child having a different mtDNA from one's mother. This is ludicrous.

    Previously other people had voice ethical concerns about babies born from a three-person IVF because they would be having two biological mothers instead of one. This is also nonsensical for two reasons:

    1) Mitochondrial DNA only represents a tiny fraction of one's genome. It is made of 16,569 base pairs, as opposed to over 3 billion base pairs for the chromosomal DNA. In other words mtDNA is only 0.0005% of our DNA. That could be less than the number of copying errors happening from one generation to the next. A lot of people are born with DNA deletions or extra copies of some genes longer than that, which their parents didn't have. What's more, getting a third person's mtDNA does not mean having 16,569 characters in one's DNA that differ from the true biological mother. It could be just a handful of mutations, or at most something like a hundred, since the variations found within human mitochondrial genomes are very minor. For example there are only 8 mutations differentiating an individual belonging to mtDNA haplogroup H2a2 from someone who is H3a1a, to cite to common Western European maternal lineages. What is a difference of 8 characters out of 3 billion ? Actually there is sometimes more difference between the DNA contained in two different cells in our body, due to copy mistakes that are inevitable during cell division. So mtDNA in itself is too tiny to have any claim at all on parenthood.

    2) It sometimes happen that the two parents of a child share the exact same mtDNA. For example if they are (first, second, third, fourth, etc.) cousins on their maternal side. This is because mtDNA can be passed unaltered for dozens of generations. For this reason it is not impossible to find an egg donor who shares the same mtDNA as the father to replace the mother's defective mtDNA. In that case the father and the egg donor would have exactly the same claim on the mtDNA. Or for that matter any individual who possess an identical mtDNA haplogroup, and there could be tens of thousands of them. This would again completely disqualify the egg's donor claim to motherhood regarding the child born in a three-person IVF. If there is absolutely no difference in genetic sequence between the donor's mtDNA and, say, her sister, her maternal cousin, or a perfect stranger who inherited the same mtDNA from an ancestor many centuries ago, then it is impossible to prove whose mtDNA it is. Mitochondrial DNA is actually quite impersonal justly because it is shared identically between so many individuals in society.
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    0 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    U can understand though why people would be against it. It is not the natural way to do it and the kid does get genes from someone who is not their parent. I am skeptical but if it safes lives it sounds okay but i dont know enough to make an opinion.

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    I don't understand these concerns. We might as well question or forbid adoptions, as kids are raised by parents of very different DNA.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I don't understand these concerns. We might as well question or forbid adoptions, as kids are raised by parents of very different DNA.
    It is very different than adoption. Alot of parents want Kids who are their biological kids same thing with all the relatives. I actulley care that my cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, grandparents, brothers, sisters and all other types of relatives are my blood relatives i don't like the idea that a stranger's DNA is in them. U need to understand there is obvious concern that makes sense. Many people will be against unnatural birth and genetically modifying babies. I think there defitley needs to be limits we are not suppose to just care about survival.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired View Post
    It is very different than adoption. Alot of parents want Kids who are their biological kids same thing with all the relatives. I actulley care that my cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, grandparents, brothers, sisters and all other types of relatives are my blood relatives i don't like the idea that a stranger's DNA is in them. U need to understand there is obvious concern that makes sense. Many people will be against unnatural birth and genetically modifying babies. I think there defitley needs to be limits we are not suppose to just care about survival.
    ...and yet you call yourself a True Christian? "Love your neighbors as yourself"

    So if it happens, that you learned, that one of your siblings or cousins was adopted, you would lose all your love and respect for him?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    ...and yet you call yourself a True Christian? "Love your neighbors as yourself"

    So if it happens, that you learned, that one of your siblings or cousins was adopted, you would lose all your love and respect for him?
    I never said that. I am sure many parents will be against having someone else's genes in their baby how is that hard to understand.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    So lets leave this to choice of parents and not morality of society set by panel of politicians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    So lets leave this to choice of parents and not morality of society set by panel of politicians.
    Okay but politicians influence how people think I would say don't keep them totally out of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired View Post
    I never said that. I am sure many parents will be against having someone else's genes in their baby how is that hard to understand.
    No, I don`t see this being an issue. After all, the couples going forward for this treatment are quite at peace with that.

    It is very hard, both physically and psychologically, on a couple and a woman in particular if she cannot naturally conceive. Most women will expect if and when they choose to have a family, they will be able to. For those who then find, for whatever reason, they cannot the pain and loss can be devastating.
    The desire and longing for a child can be immense.
    Men too, can suffer greatly in these circumstances and may also need support.
    Yet, if there is any medical process that can assist, you can be sure the small amount of a third persons genes, probably wont rank too high in things to be considered.
    Last edited by hope; 22-09-13 at 16:12.

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    So, why not get mtDNA from baby's father?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    So, why not get mtDNA from baby's father?
    In the future yes, but I don't think it was ever attempted, or successfully transferred. It is much easier to take the whole egg from a woman which contains mtDNA and transfer nucleus.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 22-09-13 at 04:55.

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    0 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Wait so Lebrok ur saying the Mom isnt the mother. They just put the fathers sperm into a test egg.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    No it's like this:
    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/...l-transfer.png

    Mom is still the mother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Haired View Post
    Wait so Lebrok ur saying the Mom isnt the mother. They just put the fathers sperm into a test egg.
    I don't know. Define Mom and define mother then I can tell you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I don't know. Define Mom and define mother then I can tell you.
    Would you love your child less if you were just the Dad and not the father?

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    Lebrok u know I meant genetic mother and no it doesn't matter if ur the genetic parent and how much u love ur kid. But still families are about blood how is this going to work out in the future when people try to find their ancestry and there are 10 strangers in the last 300 years who put their DNA in their ancestor. I don't think u understand what I have been saying and concern about this and being against it totally makes sense. At my moms families family reunion there are around 150 people and there are a some families with adopted black African, east Asian, and white kids and their own genetic kids and it doesn't really change anything. I don't think of them as less which it seems u though I was saying about the blood thing.

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    I think, the problem is some fear this is a bridge to genetic modification and so called "designer babies". This is not the intention of this treatment.
    For some people who have passed on severe mitochondrial diseases to their off-spring, this new treatment is welcomed.

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