Monday Moaning

Mary Shelly may well have been closer than she thought when she wrote Frankenstein’s Monster.

Modifying Human Embryos to Thwart Disease Weighed in U.K.

Should parents concerned about passing on genetic diseases to their children be allowed to swap DNA with a donor’s?

A  U.K.  regulatory agency is posing the question to the public starting today as the government explores whether to allow genetic modification of human embryos to prevent some diseases. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, or HFEA, will report findings to the Department of Health in March, the agency said in a statement today.

The procedure, which isn’t available in the  U.S. , involves transferring healthy nuclear DNA from one fertilized human egg with unhealthy mitochondrial DNA to a donor embryo with disease- free mitochondria. The approach may prevent genetic disorders such as learning disabilities, heart disease and diabetes. Serious forms of mitochondrial disease affect one in every 6,500 children.

“This is uncharted territory,” Lisa Jardine, chairwoman of the HFEA, told reporters in London last week. “Once we have genetic modification, we have to be damn sure that we are happy. It’s about many generations down the line what the consequences might be.”

In the U.K., the procedure, known as mitochondrial replacement, is legal in the laboratory, though the resulting embryos can’t be implanted in women.

Family Dynamics

The consultation will gauge how the public views the treatment ethically, Jardine said. It raises questions about the legal status of women who donate their eggs, as well as how it will affect family dynamics between the child, parents and donor, she said.

Source: Bloomberg Read more

Opinion:

Now I am feeling damned uncomfortable about this.

We have messed with nature for centuries, but nothing like we are currently doing. Some stuff has been good, but other stuff has produced catastrophic results because we basically don’t know what we’re doing.

Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we have to.

While the idea of ‘genetically correct’ children may be appealing to some, we have absolutely no idea what the consequences down the line will be.

Talk about opening Pandora’s Box.

Monsanto messed with plant genes, now we have plants that we can’t get rid of. What if we create indestructible children? Or monsters of another form.

The whole idea is just plain scary!

When one plays with fire, one will get burned.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. If you read the stuff about gene expression, epigenetics, and the rest of it, you realise that we have just barely started to scratch the surface on how DNA actually translates into a creature’s characteristics. In other words, we don’t _really_ know what will happen when we start swapping chunks of DNA in and out. We don’t even understand many side effects in our medicines; gene expression is much deeper, and much, much more subtle and complex. I say at the very most optimistic we are not ready for this just yet.

    Ever seen that movie, “Gattaca”? It’s about a society in which most people’s DNA has been messed with. Features the wonderful Jude Law in a role that does him justice. Talk about consequences for family dynamics.

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    • >CelloMom, I haven’t seen that movie, must download it. You are right, we know absolutely nothing about the consequences. Scientists seem to think they are playing with ‘play-dough’. The complexity of DNA, is like trying to imagine how big the universe is, and we can’t even do that; our minds are not equipped with the spacial imagination on that scale.

      I think the whole idea is horrific.

      AV

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    • >CelloMom, I have just read the synopsis of Gattaca, powerful message.

      AV

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  2. […] my Moan on Monday about tampering with genetics & DNA in humans, CelloMom mentioned the film Gattaca, I am […]

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  3. I agree, this would be bad action. I will be watching developments, but I think for me no action need be taken on my part yet.

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    • >Alex, the thing that makes me angry is that unfortunately people need to have these diseases. By stopping them we are exacerbating the population problem.

      AV

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      • I have no issues about using science to resolve disease, I have issue over the messing with the processes of nature which we are ignorant of. Corporations act out of profit, never out of consideration for the environment and humanity, so they will approach genetic modification that almost certainly will end in serious negative consequences. Also there are boundaries that should never be crossed until humanity are more evolved mentally, this being one.

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      • >Alex, I quite agree about acting against nature when we really have no idea of the long term consequences. But I have looked long and hard at the increase in global population, the people claiming we have to reduce births are totally wrong; we have unbalanced the other end of the scale, not enough people are dying naturally. While that’s a hard issue, or if you like a bitter pill to swallow, it is often the bitter pill that does the most good. As for humanity evolving mentally, I’m afraid they have, in absolutely the wrong direction.

        AV

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