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UK Scientists Create a Three-Parent Embryo

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the like-changing-the-battery dept.

Biotech 201

Troll-Under-D'Bridge writes "The BBC reports that British scientists have manufactured embryos containing genetic material from a man and two women. Under the procedure developed by scientists from Newcastle University, the nuclei from a father's sperm and a mother's egg are transferred into a second woman's egg 'from which the nucleus had been removed, but which retained its mitochondria.' The research, which may 'help mothers with rare genetic disorders have healthy children,' used embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization treatment."

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Wow . . . (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873012)

So Heather REALLY HAS two mommies!

Re:Wow . . . (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873052)

I wonder if that means the father gets double the action...

Re:Wow . . . (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873290)

Nah - just double the headaches, and a 'honeydo' list that's twice as long.

They've Finally Done It. (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873032)

Scientists have found a way to ruin the meaning of "threesome". Is this the true cost of progress?

Re:They've Finally Done It. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873338)

Just wait until they ruin the G-Spot

http://xkcd.com/685/ [xkcd.com]

Please don't joke. I think I have three parents. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873450)

My mother is Oriental, since she is from Hong Kong. My father is a white European Jew from Latvia. I'm their biological child, however I'm black like an African. My chums used to joke that I was Angolan.

My parents and the doctors were very surprised when I came out of the womb and I looked like neither of my parents. My mother swears that she has never had intimate relations with a black man.

I'm religious, so I've always considered it a gift directly from God. I think of Him as my Second Father.

Re:Please don't joke. I think I have three parents (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873494)

so god is black? hmm...

Re:They've Finally Done It. (1)

fractalboy (1078025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873694)

Right, because those of us on Slashdot are just doing so many threesomes these days.

Really? (1)

aaronfaby (741318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873064)

With the world population exploding and natural resources dwindling, do we really need new ways bring more people into the world?

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873116)

The research, which may 'help mothers with rare genetic disorders have healthy children...'

I'd say that's a pretty good reason for this research.

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873160)

I'd say not at all better than the people with rare genetic disorders being responsible and adopting if they insist on having kids. Insurance premiums will go up to cover the costs of this treatment so that people can have vanity kids instead of adopting one ready-made and otherwise unwanted.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873392)

One problem with your theory - biology.

Human reproduction is an instinct that drives human beings to pass on their own genetic material... not someone else's.

'course, one could balance that against the human instinct to protect other children in a communal group, but I suspect the drive to have one's own baby is primary. Would make for an interesting philosophical discussion, but...

I do agree with you - we're allegedly a rational species that can (not does, "can") place ourselves above base instincts and drives. Unfortunately, it's not just biology. Consider the fact that a full adoption is more often than not a years-long process (waiting lists, background checks, etc), requires a lot more effort to complete, and often costs more than whatever this particular treatment will cost? I'm thinking that most folks in that situation will just talk to the doctor and start asking female friends to act as egg donors.

Re:Really? (2, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873468)

I do agree with you - we're allegedly a rational species that can (not does, "can") place ourselves above base instincts and drives. Unfortunately, it's not just biology

One could reasonably argue that manufacturing a child via syringe is literally a part of biology but it has nothing to do with instinct.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873874)

And then one could then argue that you have the right to sell what you manufacture.

This kind of science has been known before and has been dealt with before.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873488)

One problem with your theory - biology.

Human reproduction is an instinct that drives human beings to pass on their own genetic material... not someone else's.

It's a new era and a brave new world. Just think of this as "genetic spoofing". If it's good enough for spammers it's good enough for future spam recipients.

Re:Really? (2, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873698)

Kids with spam for genetic material?

I'm sure Hormel has that patented. :)

Re:Really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873666)

I find nothing rational about humans with children. A new mother related to me has spent the last year trying to bubblewrap and sterilize the world. And she used to be so sensible. It's quite sad.

Re:Really? (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873724)

Consider the fact that a full adoption is more often than not a years-long process (waiting lists, background checks, etc), requires a lot more effort to complete, and often costs more than whatever this particular treatment will cost?

In the U.S., this is only the case when you want a white baby at birth. If you have no racial preference, but reasonable restrictions on the birth-mom's health (not epileptic, no drinking/pot when pregnant, etc) you can have a newborn in less than a year for about $10-15k. If you go through the state's foster system, and you are less restrictive on age, you could easily adopt in less than 6 months and just pay the processing fees which are usually less than $200.

Compare that for fertility treatments, and then different in-vitro procedures, adoption is still cheaper. There are agencies out there that charge much more($25-40k)for domestic adoptions, but they are generally geared toward people who want white children from mom's of a certain background, and they provide more services to birth-mom during the pregnancy.

I somewhat disagree about your point that we all want to pass on our own genetic material. I think that most people are not exposed to adoption, or are only exposed to the Hallmark Channel's interpretation of adoption, so they never look at it as an adoption.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873492)

There's a common moral squeamishness about deciding, for the greater financial good, who gets to precreate. It's a squeamishness I happen to share. If you're going to refuse to pay for their vanity kids, why pay for those of infertile couples? Why pay for a guy to store a sperm sample when he has a vascectomy? I guess it would take something like the US healthcare system to turn a free-market economy into a cold-war totalitarian nightmare.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873518)

Like it or not, there is a strong (instinctually enforced) tendency to want to pass on your own genes to the next generation. We are basically built at a basic level to want to live, eat, and reproduce. For many people that means having kids that are genetically their own.

There's also the desire to have a kid that recognizes you as their parent. That can happen just fine with adopted children, but typically only if they're very, very young when adopted. Competition for adopting babies is pretty fierce.

Also, adopting requires a LOT of justification and the like. There's a ton of paperwork determining whether or not you financially qualify, whether or not you're an appropriate match (ie, some people with certain health problems aren't allowed to adopt), or other factors (such as if the person is single. A single woman has a hell of a time adopting a child. A single man can pretty much forget about it). Having your own biological children simplifies this, as it takes a mountain of good cause and paperwork to remove a child from their parent. Pretty much the exact opposite of adoption.

All in all, while a noble goal, the reality is that adoption simply isn't for everyone.

Re:Really? (1)

Tickety-boo (1206428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873892)

Competition for adopting babies is pretty fierce.

Only the white ones. There is a shortage of families willing to adopt black children. It has gotten better over the last year, but two years ago some agencies were offering 25-50% discounts if you considered black or mixed race babies.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873554)

Rates will only go up if Insurance companies are forced to cover this in their basic packages, I guess you're right rates will go up.

Re:Really? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873652)

I'd say not at all better than the people with rare genetic disorders being responsible and adopting if they insist on having kids.

As I understand this method, the zygote (err, excuse me, child) will not inherit the disorder. So it's not irresponsible in the sense of passing on a genetic disorder.

As for insurance costs... eh, if you hadn't insisted on government-controlled health care, it'd be up to the insurance providers whether or not to pay for treatments like this, and up to you whether you wanted to purchase such insurance or not.

Re:Really? (1, Troll)

Treskin (555947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873530)

This being the internet, I can't tell if you're being sarcastic. However, the idea of spending large amounts of research money so that "rare genetic disorders" can be propagated into further generations does not seem like the best idea. If nature gives you a rare genetic disorder, it may be trying to tell you something.

Re:Really? (1)

Ouka (1621177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873814)

Huh? The point of this research is to eliminate the passage of said genetic disorders.

The mother has a rare mitochondrial disorder. She wants to have kids but doesn't want them to have her disease.

She and the father create a fertilized egg.

The get a woman with healthy mitochondria to denote an egg cell. That cell has its nucleus removed but the mitochondria left intact.

The nucleus from the fertilized egg is transferred to the nucleus-free egg.

Viola, one mitochondrial-disease-free embryo for the happy parents-to-be.

Re:Really? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873816)

And what if it's a rare mitochondrial genetic disorder? That would be eliminated for all future generations.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873156)

The biological desire to procreate is ingrained in nearly every human being to ever live, and I am not talking about simple sexual gratification. It's an innate desire that we (nearly) all have. To deny it is akin to denying one's desire for safety and freedom. Sure, we CAN, but should we? I don't have an answer, and I'm not even sure what my own opinion is.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873764)

Uh which site are you on?

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873420)

I really don't understand anti-population growth attitudes such as yours. The higher the population the more people there are to do research which will advance science that much faster. It's only a matter of time before we have fusion power plants, and batteries with energy density higher than oil and coal.

The percentage of eath's population that are malnourished has decreased almost constantly since the beginning of human civilization because of improvements in technology, what makes you think that would change now?

I actually feel sorry for people like you who have such a bleak view of the future; I can't imagine what it's like going through life believing that the decline of civilization is just around the corner.

Re:Really? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873512)

Don't worry so much about world population. As countries convert from third-world to first-world countries, birth rates plummet. You just have to worry about the damage caused by their conversion/advancement.

Re:Really? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873668)

Honestly, arguments about the value of human capital aside, I really don't think that this is going to make a significant dent in the world's population growth one way or another.

Three parents? Not really. (1, Informative)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873068)

The definition of biological parentage (as opposed to adopted parentage) has always been genetic. Just because the egg cell came from a third party does not make her a parent. She supplied no DNA. I'm sure that one day scientists will mix and match DNA from three human beings, but that is not what this article is about.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873154)

But she supplied eggs which would allow the genetic parents to develop a healthy child, which indeed makes her a co-parent.

This won't be an issue, however, because there are plenty of women who donate their eggs specifically for this reason.

My question is this: wouldn't this have to happen before meoisis I occurs? If so, how long do the parents have to perform this procedure?

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873300)

The mitochondria are separate from the nuclear chromosomal DNA. The timing of this experiment is only dependent on meiosis in that the chromosomal dna from the mother and father should be the product of meiosis: Haploid.

The mitochondrial DNA is unique and present in the mitochondria themselves. This is part of the understanding that mitochondria are from endosymbionts.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873716)

So the child inherits his genes from his parents, but strength in the Force comes from the egg-donor?

Re:Three parents? Not really. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873174)

RTFA They're getting the mitochondrial DNA from the host egg.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873480)

Which has no effect on the child's DNA. The mitochondria have no effect on the eye color, height, blood type, etc.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (5, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873566)

Mitochondrial DNA is also child's DNA...

And since it greatly affects methabolism, it's one of the most important traits of an organism. Certainly can affect one of the traits you list, height.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873782)

I must admit, I stand corrected. Thank you for the insight.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (3, Informative)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873178)

Not so. Mitochondrial DNA is not contained in the nucleus, but is rather contained in the hosting cell. In a normal fertilization, this is always the mother's mitochondiral DNA, but in this case, it is the egg donor's DNA. Any mitochondrial problems the donor might have had could be expressed by the child even if the two nuclear DNA parents don't have any such issues.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (3, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873180)

The definition of biological parentage (as opposed to adopted parentage) has always been genetic. Just because the egg cell came from a third party does not make her a parent. She supplied no DNA. I'm sure that one day scientists will mix and match DNA from three human beings, but that is not what this article is about.

but mitochondrial dna has a larger effect then you might think. Specifically metabolism can you imagine two identical twins where one was fat and the other skinny?

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

virgilp (1774784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873516)

my father and hist twin brother (my uncle). Seriously.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873630)

Specifically metabolism can you imagine two identical twins where one was fat and the other skinny?

Sure, if I replace the word "identical" with "very different".

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

Supergibbs (786716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873686)

Wouldn't them haven't different DNA make them not identical? They'd be fraternal twins which isn't anything more that siblings that share a birth date. Siblings are fat and skinny all the time.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (3, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873748)

can you imagine two identical twins where one was fat and the other skinny?

Yes I know a pair. Both are attractive, but one is single and jogs, the other is married, doesn't exercise, and eats a lot. It's not all in the genes.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (3, Informative)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873192)

The egg donor provides mitochondrial DNA, which is not unimportant to the future health of the child. Many diseases are related to mitochondrial DNA problems.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873602)

And in fact I believe that DNA ancestors studies use mitochondrial DNA. So it is an important contribution in that it breaks a long line of identical mitochondrial DNA within the female ancestors of the embryo.

From what I understand of the present case, the mitochondrial DNA of the mother who supplied the nucleus indeed contained genes for a disease and that is what motivated the change. So the change is not unimportant at all.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

ruewan (952328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873204)

I wonder if this same procedure would work if they took microcondria from animals.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873424)

It might actually work; particularly if you picked an animal relatively close to humans on the evolutionary tree(since mitochondrial problems tend to kill you good and hard, especially in the wild, mitochondrial features are pretty highly conserved).

That said, using unsupported third party libraries totally voids any support agreements you might have with the vendor...

Re:Three parents? Not really. (5, Informative)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873236)

She did contribute DNA, its Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA). Mitochondrial DNA is unique from the rest of the genome and is not in the nucleus. It is found in the mitochondria.

All MtDNA in humans is transmitted from the mother because it is her mitochondria in the egg that will propagate into each cell as cells divide in development.

So she has contributed genes.

MtDNA from egg donor.
Maternal chromosomal DNA is from the nuclear DNA donor.
Paternal chromosomal DNA is from the sperm.

So how would this affect ability to use the force? (1, Funny)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873618)

MtDNA from egg donor

Anakin Skywalker's mother, for instance.

Maternal chromosomal DNA is from the nuclear DNA donor

non-high midichlorin femaile character, like... not Princess Leia, she clearly has midichlorins. Were there any other females in those movies?

Paternal chromosomal DNA is from the sperm

from Han Solo. Or, god forbid, Jar Jar Binks. So, basically, because of the importance of this midichlorinal DNA, Jar Jar could be given Jedi powers? That is messed up.

Re:So how would this affect ability to use the for (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873820)

Princess Leia, she clearly has midichlorins. Were there any other females in those movies?

How could you forget Mon Mothma? Even her name is hot.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873248)

The 2nd mother supplied the mitochondrial dna [wikipedia.org] . So the 2nd mother can claim that some of the child's genetic make-up belongs to her.

Or at least the energy creation portion of the child came from her.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873252)

Thats incorrect, as the mitochondria do contain genetic material of their own. This may be use in situations where the 'mother' has mtDNA deffects such as Kearns-Sayre Syndrome, Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, or Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episode MELAS. So yes their would be two different females genetic material and one males, in the embryo.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873282)

The "mitochondrial" DNA is separate from the nucleos DNA. In nature mitochondrial DNA is always wholy inherited from the mother. In this experiment the nucleus DNA for the egg comes from one woman and the mitochondrial DNA comes from the 2nd woman so the embryo does have 3 parents.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873366)

Yup. I was excited when I read the summary, and then rather disappointed. With only 91 chromosomes between my wife and I, we'd really like to see chromosomal donation be available to provide that one extra we need rather than a whole set of 46.

Re:Three parents? Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873914)

She applied MITOCHONDRIAL DNA. In fact, since mitochondria come from the mother, her contribution is undiluted in the child, unlike those of the other parents.

This sounds... (1)

drkoemans (666135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873082)

HOT. Science is sexy again.

Re:This sounds... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873456)

Wait'll you find out what's really involved (hint: the guy has to donate his sperm without contaminating it... guess how that happens? The answer is as close as your nearest hand).

(I'm also thinking that the women aren't going to be wearing thigh-high stockings and stiletto heels to their egg extraction procedures either, given taht those usually involve really long needles, IIRC).

More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1, Offtopic)

Hungus (585181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873094)

I have severe moral issues with any procedure which results in the deliberate destruction of an embryo. No, I am not utilitarian yes, I am a deontologist (rule set not act).

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873138)

Derp derp derp

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (5, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873186)

I have severe moral issues with people who think that morality is anything more than an arbitrary human construct largely defined by unconscious mental process shaped by evolution, thus making axiology a faux endeavor, you insensitive clod!

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (0)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873322)

Except there is no such thing as moral. "moral" comes from the attempt of religions to control our lives. There is no difference between deontological ethics and moral absolutism. Guess what? There is no invisible man in the sky, and we don't care about your absolute moral rules.

On the other hand, we do have codes of Ethics. We discuss them, and we enjoy our greys a lot. Murder is wrong. Everything else is interesting and open to debate.

We, as a society, have already decided that the future is amazing, and it can't get here soon enough. Keep your religious propaganda for yourself, we want to explore space and improve our kind.

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873534)

If it's open to debate, why does he need to keep it to himself? After all, you couldn't believe he's "wrong" or "right", right?

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873922)

Correct. There is no right nor wrong, only acceptable and unacceptable, which varies from person to person, and even time to time. Some people want a universal right and wrong, but unfortunately, there just isn't one. Just like their invisible friend isn't any better than someone else's.

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (4, Funny)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873344)

Did you mean to say "I don't like this." ?

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873444)

I don't believe that such as thing as absolute morality exists. However, there is such a thing as contractual morality (it is wrong to cheat on your spouse because you have an implicit contract that you won't. If you and your spouse have an agreement that sleeping around is ok, then it is not immoral). So, if something offends your sense of right and wrong, DON'T DO IT! But you have no right to bitch about other people doing something that does not harm you. (Your moral indignity is a harm you impose on yourself.)

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1)

Ouka (1621177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873482)

Well, you should be happy then. This procedure doesn't destroy any embryos, it just transfers the genetic material from a fertilized egg into an empty egg.

The source embryo was a fertilized egg had mitochondrial problems, so it may not have survived to term and even if it had the child would have had significant health problems.

The destination egg wasn't an embryo, it was an unfertilized egg.

So unless you weep every time a woman has a period, what's the problem?

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873522)

Cool story, bro.

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873548)

Is accidental destruction OK? How about a recklessly negligent action with a ~2/3ds likelihood of destroying one?

In your answer, please note: between implantation failures and spontaneous abortion, somewhere between 50 and 70% of eggs that are fertilized by traditional means never make it. If deliberate destruction of an embryo is immoral, an attempt at conception, through perfectly standard sexual means, no science stuff, is recklessly negligent.

Punchline is, while humans aren't organisms of the "release 100,000 fertilized eggs, maybe 5 will survive" school, human zygotes are still pretty damn expendable in unaltered human biology.

Re:More nonsense use to justify immoral action (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873838)

Listening to a rightist lecturing about "morality" is almost as funny as listening to a leftist lecturing about "responsibility".

Not what you think (2, Insightful)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873114)

One of the 'mothers' only contributes mitochondrial DNA, which does not affect any characteristics to the offspring.

Re:Not what you think (1)

anonymousbob22 (1320281) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873268)

One of the 'mothers' only contributes mitochondrial DNA, which does not affect any characteristics to the offspring.

Well, assuming the mothers' mitochondrial DNA is fine and normal. But if she has some rare genetic disease [wikipedia.org] that might not necessarily be true.

Re:Not what you think (4, Informative)

vell0cet (1055494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873330)

Depends on what you mean by "characteristics." At the very base level, it contributes to every other cell in the offspring's body (as the mitochondria themselves are replicated during a separate mitosis stage within the "host" cell).

At another level, the mitochondria set the rate at which the cell creates energy which directly affects the ability of the cell to regenerate, reproduce and function which can itself cause differences in gene expression.

Re:Not what you think (5, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873846)

Not only that, but since the mitochondrial DNA only codes for a small amount of the respiration chain -- cytochrome C oxidase, ATP synthase, and some of the core proteins of the NADH reductase complex, in most eukaryotic cells -- while the nuclear DNA codes for much of the rest of the proteins in the respiration chain, you need to have an excellent match between proteins that come from two different chunks of DNA. There's no guarantee that'll happen, and there's evidence that one of the reasons cloning has such a poor success rate and so many cloned animals die young of strange damage, is precisely because of poor matching between mitochondrial and nuclear dna products, leading to oxidative damage throughout the cell and early cell death because of leakage from the poorly-functioning respiration chain.

Re:Not what you think (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873386)

I would say the mitochondria definitely affect the characteristics of the offspring. Mitochondria are the place where much of the metabolic pathways are involved.

I believe the whole point of this procedure was for would-be mothers who suffer from mitochondrial-related disorders to be able to bear children with their own chromosomal DNA but having healthy mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) (and thus healthy mitochondria).

Metabolism is a very big player in an organism's characteristics.

Re:Not what you think (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873570)

I think I'd classify "aerobic respiration" as a "characteristic"....

New meaning for the phrase "Go F*** yourself?" (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873124)

Just asking.....

Re:New meaning for the phrase "Go F*** yourself?" (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873614)

Not usefully. This research [independent.co.uk] , on the other hand...

Ménage à trois (2, Funny)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873240)

A very scientific, high tech, in vitro ménage à trois.

Re:Ménage à trois (4, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873270)

I prefer the old fashioned way of combining the genetic material of a man and two women personally.

Re:Ménage à trois (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873578)

Don't you mean ìñ vî?

Cloning (1)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873274)

Sounds like what they actually did was clone the baby of two parents using a second woman's egg to grow it in.

not cloning (1)

Ouka (1621177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873402)

That would depend on whether the source embryo was still in the 1-cell stage or not. The article says the genomic material was taken from a fertilized egg, which would technically imply 1-cell. Taking the genetic material from a 1-cell stage embryo isn't technically cloning, though the procedure is the same. To be cloning it would have to come from a 2+ cell embryo, thereby creating a clone of the source embryo.

You FAIL iT.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873414)

bring your own BitTorrent) Second, the wind appeared Support GNAA, Are looking very having lost 93% things I still am protesting thing for the join in. It can be BSD's filesystem 4s the premiere has ground to a look at your soft, Well-known in eternity...Romeo Development. BSD Would take about 2 are tied up in future. Even for a moment and Slashdot's perform keeping used to. SHIT ON a BSD over other comprehensive Non nigger patrons Hand...don't more grandiose

Re:You FAIL iT.. (0, Offtopic)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873582)

suggestion: how about replacing normal captcha for submitting as AC with something a bit more complicated? a set of differential equations, perhaps? or maybe require the poster to prove the collatz conjecture, and define a turing machine that can verify the proof?

Re:You FAIL iT.. (2, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873742)

or maybe require the poster to prove the collatz conjecture, and define a turing machine that can verify the proof?

Last time they tried that I was a wiseguy and submitted a turing machine which would halt iff the collatz conjecture was true. Next thing you know, Slashdot went down trying to verify whether the thing halted. I don't think my post ever made it either.

Jewish law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873448)

So, if your mitochondrial mother is Jewish but your chromosomal mother isn't (or vice versa), are you Jewish?

(At least one scholar suggests that the answer is no and that it's only the gestational mother that matters: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/cloning.html)

Or... (4, Insightful)

Theuberelite (1786666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873458)

Or you could just adopt. Wouldn't be much different would it? You're not having the baby yourself, and you're getting it out of another man's sperm and another woman's egg. The only difference is your mitochondria is present. All I can see it doing is allowing for there to be a relation between the parent and the child genetically, but how much is this going to change things? On top of that, I'm going to guess that this process will be really expensive, so who would want to pay for that sort of thing? I just can't see the point.

Re:Or... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873854)

Huh? How do you understand the mechanism but miss the motivation?

The mothers paying for this are going to be mothers with broken mitochondria, not mothers with normal mitochondria.

So women with mitochondrial myopathies will be able to stick their DNA into a cell with normal mitochondria, thus having a child that is mostly like they are, except without the severe metabolic disorder.

The french have been trying this forever (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873462)

They called their earlier attempts "Menage e Trois"

Old News (1)

valros (1741778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873478)

Wasn't this done about 30 years ago in the US(Maryland maybe?) involving a similar mitochondrial condition?

Unconscionablereligious prohibition (4, Insightful)

Naatach (574111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873498)

As a parent who has gone through 7 years of infertility, I can say that I find religious objections to new fertility treatments unconscionable. The Church's belief that people who suffer from infertility should "accept the will of god" to be disgusting and akin to telling a cancer patient that they should do the same. The grief suffered by a couple with infertility diseases is as great of that of someone dying of a terminal illness. Imagine if someone stormed into your house, kidnapped your children, and you are powerless to do anything about it. Infertility evokes the same kind of emotions. Forbidding treatment on religious grounds adds insult to injury. In the end, we resolved our infertility by adopting.

Re:Unconscionablereligious prohibition (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873546)

The grief suffered by a couple with infertility diseases is as great of that of someone dying of a terminal illness.

I find your trying to equate the two is disgusting. It makes you easier to ignore as a flipping idiot. In the future, try to reject the same kind of heavy handed rhetoric you're condemning others of using.

Re:Unconscionablereligious prohibition (1)

Naatach (574111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873868)

The desire to have a child is so ingrained in our species that inability to do so is a major cause of distress. Clinical studies have showed this to be true.

"Infertile women experience distress levels comparable to those of women with terminal llnesses..."
Domar AD, Zuttermeister PC, Friedman R.
The psychological impact of infertility: A comparison to patients with other medical conditions. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1993;14:45-52.

You really should check your facts before firing off invectives.

Lesbian mothers will be able to have children (1)

Myria (562655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873572)

This is great progress, because it means that lesbian mothers will eventually be able to have children that are genetically related to both parents. This would mean that all their children are female, but they may not mind.

Re:Lesbian mothers will be able to have children (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873916)

There is still a sperm involved here, so there is still a chance of a Y chromosome getting in there.

On the other hand, the research that takes epithelial stem cells and forces them into meiosis could lead to women 'fathering' children.

Too much slashdot (1)

olman (127310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873594)

Darn, I read that headline as "three-patent embryo" and thought it's some kind of IP gripe article.

Never mind, I'm sure the number of patents on this is bigger by the order of magnitude anyways.

Kill one embryo to produce another? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31873682)

In normal fertilization, once a single sperm has penetrated the oocyte's (egg) zona pellucida, a cortical reaction occurs within milliseconds to prevent polyspermy. Since the male pronuclei has been delivered into the oocyte, effectively the oocyte ceases to exist as an "egg". A continuum has been triggered that renders the combined cells an embryonic human being - the first effective stage completing at amphimixis - the zygote.

They simply cloned - destroying an existing embryonic human being to replace the pronuclei from two other sources.

 

Nick Lanes book on Mitchondria (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31873828)

Nick Lane's book Power, Sex, Suicide and Mitchondria [amazon.com] was a fascinating read. Nick proposes several reasons why mitochondria would keep a few of their genes around, when the other 90% have been subsumed into the nucleus. These tend to be for the most crucial proteins in repairing the oxidation damage caused by this powerhouses.
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