The UK legislature today approved what is popularly called a Three Parent Baby. This is a baby conceived in a lab using genetic material from two women and one man.
The man and one of the women are who have traditionally been considered parents. The second woman’s participation is understood as being limited to contributing what is termed mitochondrial DNA, intended to replace the “real” mother’s “defective” mitochondrial DNA.
Based on limited animal studies, scientists enthuse that this lab procedure will merely allow mothers with defective mitochondrial DNA to give birth to babies free of crippling, devastating and/or terminal mitochondrial diseases.
For context, roughly 6,500 babies across the planet are born with mitochondrial diseases each year. This procedure will also protect all the babies’ future descendants from the ravages of such defective mitochondrial DNA.
Will this lab procedure alter any other genes or characteristics of the Three Parent Babies or their descendants?
Uh, don’t think so. But why don’t you ask again in, say, 25 years?
What all does mitochondrial DNA regulate in humans?
Well, actually, not really so sure. Why not ask again in, say, 25 years?
Has there been any significant progress in treating mitochondrial diseases lately?
Nah, they only affect about 6,500 births worldwide per year. Not a sufficient critical mass to make it cost-effective to bother researching.
And no need. There’s this nifty new lab procedure that works around mitochondrial diseases … and has the potential to do oh so much more tweaking of the genetic code ….
Clinical trials of the type generally required for approval of new drugs or surgical procedures, have not been conducted on this lab procedure. Nor is it clear how much effort has been directed toward treating or curing the mitochondrial diseases this lab procedure is reportedly intended to prevent.
The vote on whether to allow this lab procedure was under debate in the UK legislature for a full 90 minutes.
Scientists in the US have been conducting similar research and animal testing. Clinical trials are anticipated in the not too distant future.
Hey, childhood obesity is an epidemic. Obesity is believed to cause, contribute to or aggravate Type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and heart attack, sleep apnea, arthritis, gallbladder disease, fatty liver disease, and depression, to name a few. Several of these conditions can be extremely debilitating – or fatal.
Maybe a variation of the newly approved procedure could prevent childhood obesity?
Oh, nope, scientists don’t really know precisely which gene(s) and/or DNA segment(s) cause childhood obesity. There are over 50 different genes that appear to be involved in obesity.
Read more in this:
- BBC News Health article: MPs say yes to three-person babies
- CNN News Health article: UK lawmakers approve ‘3-parent babies’ law
- Fox News Health article: Britain votes to allow world’s first ‘three-parent’ IVF babies
- NPR News the two-way article: ‘3-Parent Baby’ Law Moves Forward In Britain
- Wired Science article: How It’s Possible for a Baby to Have Three Parents
- LA Times World article: Britain moves toward allowing creation of babies from DNA of 3 people
- CDC Public Health Genomics: Genomics and Health, Genes and Obesity
- CDC Overweight and Obesity: Basics About Childhood and Obesity
- ScienceNordic: Seven new genetic causes of obesity identified