April 15, 2010
British Scientists Create Three-Parent Embryos
Scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have created embryos with DNA from a man and two women, the BBC reports.
They say their research, published in the journal Nature, could prevent the mother from passing on damaged DNA in mitochondria to children.
In response to the news, Family Research Council released a statement calling on Congress to pass a ban on human cloning, and on germline genetic engineering and genetic manipulation of embryos.
"This technology is a further step toward tampering with the very essence of humanity, and demonstrates not just contempt for human life itself - all the embryos in this experiment were destroyed for science - but a profoundly dangerous and arrogant belief that we can tamper with the genetic makeup of our fellow human beings," said David Prentice, FRC's senior fellow for life sciences.
It is illegal for clinics in the UK to implant embryos using this procedure, the Telegraph reports.
One in 200 children is born each year with genetic mutations in the mitochondria — energy-producing structures in cells inherited from the egg. The effects are usually mild, but in 1 in 6,500 people incurable disease is caused.
In the Newcastle technique, embryos are created by IVF, using the mother’s eggs and her partner’s sperm. After fertilisation two “pronuclei” from the egg and sperm, containing the parents’ DNA, are removed. These are injected into a donated embryo with healthy mitochondria, from which the pronuclei have been removed.