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Oregon scientists make embryos with 2 women, 1 man

health & sciences university prevent inheriting diseases dna alteration designer babies

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#1 Hum

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 13:55

Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women, using a provocative technique that could someday be used to prevent babies from inheriting certain rare incurable diseases.

The researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University said they are not using the embryos to produce children, and it is not clear when or even if this technique will be put to use. But it has already stirred a debate over its risks and ethics in Britain, where scientists did similar work a few years ago.

The British experiments, reported in 2008, led to headlines about the possibility someday of babies with three parents. But that's an overstatement. The DNA from the second woman amounts to less than 1 percent of the embryo's genes, and it isn't the sort that makes a child look like Mom or Dad. The procedure is simply a way of replacing some defective genes that sabotage the normal workings of cells.

The British government is asking for public comment on the technology before it decides whether to allow its use in the future. One concern it cites is whether such DNA alteration could be an early step down a slippery slope toward "designer babies" — ordering up, say, a petite, blue-eyed girl or tall, dark-haired boy.

Questions have also arisen about the safety of the technique, not only for the baby who results from the egg, but also for the child's descendants.

In June, an influential British bioethics group concluded that the technology would be ethical to use if proven safe and effective. An expert panel in Britain said in 2011 that there was no evidence the technology was unsafe but urged further study.

The genes they want to replace aren't the kind most people think of, which are found in the nucleus of cells and influence traits such as eye color and height. Rather, these genes reside outside the nucleus in energy-producing structures called mitochondria. These genes are passed along only by mothers, not fathers.

About 1 in every 5,000 children inherits a disease caused by defective mitochondrial genes. The defects can cause many rare diseases with a host of symptoms, including strokes, epilepsy, dementia, blindness, deafness, kidney failure and heart disease.

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#2 OP Hum

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 15:42

I don't see what would be so wrong with having "designer babies" -- seems like a good thing.

#3 HawkMan

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:08

I don't see what would be so wrong with having "designer babies" -- seems like a good thing.


untill you get defects from manupulation, lack of genetic variety causes the human race to lose immunitites we otherwise wouldn't have had, people who can't afford to #design" their babies, get lower class babies who won't be allowed to mingle with the "perfects", and so on and so on. the issues vary from purely sociopolitical to genuine genetic dangers.

#4 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:19

This is just the sort of scientific revolution that could renew interest in Mormonism and polygamy. Mitt Romney will be happy.

#5 Phalesafe

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:22

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/

#6 TPreston

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:22

untill you get defects from manupulation, lack of genetic variety causes the human race to lose immunitites we otherwise wouldn't have had, people who can't afford to #design" their babies, get lower class babies who won't be allowed to mingle with the "perfects", and so on and so on. the issues vary from purely sociopolitical to genuine genetic dangers.


True but the cost for not doing this (preventable/genetic illness) could be even higher.

The universe isn't going to make this easy for us

#7 vetTHolman

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:24

Why can't we just let humans be normal?...

#8 OP Hum

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:26

^ Cuz we must play god :shifty: ... and make sure no one wears glasses any more.

#9 vetTHolman

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:29

^ Cuz we must play god :shifty:


The problem is that bad things tend to happen when we do that. 'Designer babies' will turn out like human designed software or machinery - full of bugs and problems no one anticipated, only this time they will be alive. When you start to treat people as something that can be designed, tinkered with and 'ordered,' you have completely lost all respect for human life.

#10 Enron

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:30

untill you get defects from manupulation, lack of genetic variety causes the human race to lose immunitites we otherwise wouldn't have had, people who can't afford to #design" their babies, get lower class babies who won't be allowed to mingle with the "perfects", and so on and so on. the issues vary from purely sociopolitical to genuine genetic dangers.


Sounds like something the Illusive Man would do.

#11 OP Hum

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:31

The problem is that bad things tend to happen when we do that. 'Designer babies' will turn out like human designed software or machinery - full of bugs and problems no one anticipated, only this time they will be alive. When you start to treat people as something that can be designed, tinkered with and 'ordered,' you have completely lost all respect for human life.


^ Look around at the many defective humans on Earth ... we're full of bugs now.

We allow many humans to starve, suffer with disease, kill them off in pointless wars --- where is the respect for life you speak of ?

#12 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:36

Why can't we just let humans be normal?...


We have people born with extra chromosomes, genetic predispositions to diseases, overcrowded teeth, dwarfism, the baldness gene, allergies, blindness, deafness, extra limbs, defective organs, etc - very undesirable qualities that often severely impact quality of life. If we can eliminate them and improve the health and well-being of the human race with minimal risk isn't that at least worth investigating? Obviously there needs to be regulatory oversight to prevent abuse and reckless behaviour but it should be based upon scientific merit, not religious "morality".

#13 Lant

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:38

All this is doing is taking an egg without any defective mitochondria, removing that egg's nucleus and replacing it with the actual parent's nucleus.
They are not modifying the human DNA, and just providing the baby with non-defective mitochondria.
I don't see why this is such an issue.

This doesn't even lead to a eugenics avenue of research because the technology to do that would be completely different (restriction enzymes vs replacing an entire nucleus).

#14 HawkMan

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 16:46

True but the cost for not doing this (preventable/genetic illness) could be even higher.

The universe isn't going to make this easy for us


Well that's just BS. We're not have a flood a babies born with genetic defects that needs to be fixed. Yes, if we can fix something then we should. But we should look to perfect everything and remove everything bad or design the perfect astronaut, the perfect runner, the perfect soldier and so on, it's a bad idea and will end.

There is no worst evil dilemma here, if we start doing this, we will remove genetic diversity which will make us a weaker species and possibly have us all killed by a simple flu pandemic. We're already on this path n a bigger scale with germs, everyone is so afraid of dirt and germs that they're washing their hands and kids with antibac at every opportunity, kids aren't allowed to get dirty and play in the dirt. And we're seeing more and more kids because of this with asthma, allergies, weaker immune systems and so on.

#15 HawkMan

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 17:00

All this is doing is taking an egg without any defective mitochondria, removing that egg's nucleus and replacing it with the actual parent's nucleus.
They are not modifying the human DNA, and just providing the baby with non-defective mitochondria.
I don't see why this is such an issue.

This doesn't even lead to a eugenics avenue of research because the technology to do that would be completely different (restriction enzymes vs replacing an entire nucleus).


It is however much the same thing done during cloning though.

Never mind the fact that the whole procedure is quite pointless as you may as well just use all the genetic material(ie full egg) from the genetic donor in any case.