“It is human beings they are experimenting with,” says Countess Josephine Quintavalle, founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, regarding the creation of 3-parent embryos by scientists at Newcastle University, England.
The new technique amounts to human cloning, using an embryo as a source of DNA.
Newcastle scientists created 10 embryos using the DNA of 3 parents – one man, and two women, and have hailed it as a breakthrough in IVF treatment. The Newcastle team effectively gave 10 embryos a “mitochondira transplant,” replacing an abnormal mitochondria with a normal one. The scientists aim at developing a treatment for diseases caused by faults in mitochondria, such as certain forms of epilepsy. Professor Patrick Chinnery of the University of Newcastle stated, “We believe we could develop this technique and offer treatment in the foreseeable future that will give families some hope of avoiding passing these diseases to their children.”
Countess Quintavalle pointed out that research in the America using the DNA from one man and two women was discontinued due to “huge abnormalities” in the resulting embryos. In light of the U.S. research, Quintavalle described the New Castle research as “risky, dangerous,” and a step towards “designer babies.”
Further experimentation on the techniques’ safety and efficacy is necessary before it can be used as treatment. If the technique proves to be effective, a bill to regulate this new form of human cloning will be considered by the House of Commons around March of this year.
“We should not be messing around with the building blocks of life,” Quintavalle concluded.