British Scientists Given Approval to Create Human Embryos from 2 Mothers

Fertility watchdogs have outraged pro-life supporters and Christian medical experts by giving the go-ahead for British scientists to create a human embryo with genetic input from three parents.

Published 09 September 2005
Fertility watchdogs have outraged pro-life supporters and Christian medical experts by giving the go-ahead for British scientists to create a human embryo with genetic input from three parents.
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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology has uplifted its ban on the controversial proposal from scientists working at the University of Newcastle.

Pro-life groups have immediately condemned the proposal, and has expressed that it amounted to using unborn babies as fodder for experiments.

The scientists plan to transfer the genetic make-up created from a fused egg and sperm into that of a second woman’s egg, thereby using three separate parents to create the final egg.

British Scientists have defended the works saying that it would carried out to investigate how to prevent various debilitating genetic diseases being passed onto a child from their mother. Such diseases, known as mitochondrial diseases, are brought about from the DNA found outside the nucleus, and so are inherited separately from the DNA found within the nucleus.

Although not technically cloning, the team promoting this project drive has been accused of using ‘cloning’ techniques.
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Campaign group, Life’s Matthew O’Gorman reported, “There is no satisfactory reason for using human beings as research material. Cloning techniques have been rejected by the vast majority of countries in the world as well as the European Union and the United Nations.”

However, researcher Professor John Burn told that technically the method used would not led to ‘designer babies’ as the embryo would be destroyed after just 14 days.

Burn said, “I would use the analogy of replacing the battery in a pocket radio to explain what we are doing. You are not altering the radio at all – just giving it a new power source.”

Scientists have tried to calm fears by stating that the resulting egg would never be allowed to develop into a baby, and that even if it did, the offspring would still resemble their mother and father because the extra DNA taken from the third parent, the mitochondrial DNA, does not dictate things like hair colour.
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The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign said it was delighted that it had been given approval for the research project by the HFEA.

The man heading up the research team, Dr David Harrison has said to the BBC, "The innovative approach being tested by Professor Turnbull may lead to a treatment for mitochondrial myopathies, a group of conditions that dramatically affect quality and length of life."

Josephine Quintavalle from Comment on Reproductive Ethics told the BBC that she was horrified with the development, “This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public. It is undesirable to create children in this way. It will shock the world. This is playing around with early human life.”

However, Professor Turnbull said they were not radically altering an embryo's DNA, but that “we are simply changing the energy source.”

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