February 05, 2008

Mommy 1, Mommy 2 and Daddy

A team of doctors have created a human embryo with three biological parents. They planted the nucleus of an embryo (formed in the usual way with egg and sperm) into another egg whose nucleus had been removed. The embryo began to grow as normal.

This of course leads to the disturbing question: do we want to create people with three genetic parents? What are we doing to our children? And does anyone even care about the impact on children, since the overriding concern in all these technologies seems to focus on the desires and "needs" of the adults?

A rather disquieting tangent along these lines is the door that such an experiment opens to polygamy. If children have three "natural" parents, then why can't these parents all get married and live in the home, and share in the raising of their child? Any other arrangement is arguably unfair to the child, who is forced to choose between parents and see less of one than the two others.

It is also interesting that for this experiment, the scientists used the "defective" embryos left over from IVF. And with this little "transplant," the embryos got a second wind and started developing as normal. Thus, there may now be a way to "save" some of those embryos that were previously written off as too damaged to use in IVF.


Anonymous said...

The nucleus of a cell is where the genetic information lives. If you take it out, you remove the genetic information. In the situation you are referencing, only two sets of genetics exist. What the doctor basically did was use the shell of one egg to make a habitable house for another woman's genetic material. He basically gave that genetic material a nurturing environment. He didn't use the genetic material of two women and one man. He used the genetic material of ONE woman and ONE man.

It is physcially impossible to combine three sets of DNA. You'd get triploidy, a common cause of miscarriage. (This occurs naturally when two sperm fertilize one egg.) Fetuses suffering from triploidy rarely make it past 6 weeks and never make it to viability. Triploidy has a 100% mortality rate.

This is pretty basic high school science. At the very least you ought to research before you write; this makes you look plain foolish. The more I read, the more it seems that your grasp of the technology behind these procedures is tentative at best.

Anonymous said...

Well, you know what? I stand corrected. I was thinking something different from what you wrote but I went and found the original article and the procedure you're referencing did indeed use three genetic sets. So I apologize for that. And if I could take down my first comment I would but that ability has apparently been disabled.

I still disagree with the way you're sensationalizing it, though.