ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Manipulating Eggs to Avoid Disease

A United Kingdom ethics council approves altering human egg cells, which could allow doctors to correct mitochondrial disease in IVF patients.

Edyta Zielinska

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, EKEM

Treating the eggs of IVF mothers with mitochondrial disease is ethical as long as the procedure is proven safe, according a report released on Monday (June 11) from the Nuffield Council of Bioethics in the United Kingdom.

Mitochondrial malfunctions that result in deafness and diseases that resemble multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s arise from defective mitochondrial DNA, which is in part responsible for the organelle’s function and growth. However, since mitochondria are only passed down via the mother, researchers have been experimenting with techniques to transfer a nucleus from the mother’s eggs into a donated cell containing healthy mitochondria, either before or after fertilization.  The resulting child would then have genetic material both from the mother and the donor, raising ethical questions.

The Nuffield council said that although the procedure was a form of human germline therapy, it was ethical for parents and doctors to use it, as...

 

 

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT