fascinating. newcastle university researchers are perfecting a procedure that will help prevent birth defects and other ailments in the womb using a dna transplant from egg and sperm cells with suspect mitochondrial dna to healthy cells with healthy mitochondria.
the nuclear material of the sperm and egg is from the parents, but the mitochondrial dna is someone else’s. the researchers say it’s like changing the battery on a laptop: the hard disk (brain) is the same, but the powerhouse is different. it’s more like a heart transplant, where the core of the person remains the same, but the ‘powerhouse’ is changed, only at an embryonic level.
i favor the research. this is the future of medicine. some anti-abortion and fundamentalist religion groups will protest, but this procedure does not result in the cessation of life, but rather the encouragement of it. call it designer babies if you want, but procedures like this will save lives and prevent birth defects. i don’t see a problem with using a woman’s own eggs to do this, nor utilizing the mitochondrial remains and cell membranes of cells that were harvested during the in vitro fertilization of another, which would otherwise be discarded. this is encouraging life from life.
the only potential problem will come far in the future. i can see a potential class struggle between those humans who were born naturally (the old fashioned way) and those that were genetically engineered using gene therapy or some other sort of genetic transplant. this will take generations, but make no mistake, opponents will use this hypothetical construct to argue against the procedure. however, the wise will counter by arguing it’s no different than those with access to healthcare today and those without; there is a definite scientific advantage for the group with access to scientifically based health care.
we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. we know that early diagnosis and treatment of potential diseases can mean the difference between life (or at least a full, healthy, meaningful life in the eyes of the afflicted) and death. this procedure will assist in curing diseases before they develop, and i encourage and endorse this kind of life-giving research.
Filed under: science, sexuality | Tagged: 3 parent, abortion, children, egg, embryo, engineering, fertilization, gene, genetic, mitochondria, mitochondrial, newcastle university, sperm, therapy, transplant |