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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Two Women, One Man and a Baby

Mitochondrion     (Diagram by Kelvinsong)
Two’s company and three may soon be a baby.  Three-parent embryos are already permitted in the United Kingdom, and may next be allowed in the United States.

Called “an elegant solution” regarding the “class of diseases caused by dysfunctional mitochondria,” three-parent embryos combine the nucleus of one woman’s egg with the rest of another woman’s egg.

This is accomplished by first removing “the nucleus from an egg of the mother-to-be,” stripping another egg of its nucleus, then inserting the mother-to-be’s nucleus into that second egg.  Because the second egg presumably has healthy mitochondria, any resulting embryo will not suffer from such diseases.

Since more than 99 percent of the genetic material lies within the mother-to-be’s contributed nucleus, the second egg winds up donating “less than 1 percent of all the genetic material in the embryo.” Nevertheless, questions remain concerning the child’s identity, due to these unusual circumstances.

Biological questions are also being asked, especially this one:  Could there be a danger in mixing two women’s DNA in a single egg?


Copyright February 4, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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