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Three Parents Contribute to Experimental Human Embryo

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the welcome-to-transhuman-space dept.

Biotech 136

gihan_ripper writes "It sounds like the storyline from a cheesy film, but a human embryo has been created using the genetic material from one man and two women. A team from Newcastle University, England, developed the technique in the hope that it could be used to prevent diseases caused by faulty mitochondria. Their experiment started with two ingredients: first, a left over (and 'severely abnormal') embryo from an IVF treatment; second, a donor egg from another woman. The donor egg has all but the mitochondrial DNA removed, then a nucleus from the embryo is inserted into the egg. Effectively, this results in a mitochondria transplant. 'While any baby born through this method would have genetic elements from three people, the nuclear DNA that influences appearance and other characteristics would not come from the woman providing the donor egg. However, the team only have permission to carry out the lab experiments and as yet this would not be allowed to be offered as a treatment.'"

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136 comments

Obligatory Office Space Comment (5, Funny)

show me altoids (1183399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307126)

Two chicks at once!

Re:Obligatory Office Space Comment (5, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307146)

Killjoy scientists. They even find ways to take the fun out of three-ways!

Re:Obligatory Office Space Comment (1)

lthown (737539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307150)

"threesome" was all I could think of - kinda strange way to go about it though.

Re:Obligatory Family Guy Comment (1)

troutsoup (648171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308562)

giggity gig!!!!

Poor kid. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307160)

There's a kid who's going to spend their whole life dreading Mother's Day.

Re:Poor kid. (4, Funny)

notnAP (846325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307786)

I can see it now...

Teacher: Timmy, you've put the apostrophe in the wrong place again... It's Mother's Day, not Mothers' Day...

Timmy: But Miss Jones...



Or how about...

Timmy: Mr. Therapist, I think I have an Oedipal urge to sleep with my mothers...

Therapist: Your libido is fine, Timmy... That'll be $150.

This should be good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22307164)

I can't wait to see the human monsters this produces.

Just htink: Jennifer Lopez's fat ass, Lucy Liu's sidewase vagina, and Bill Clinton's insaciable lust for women.

Re:This should be good (-1, Troll)

johnm_10 (874878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307420)

That's what I was thinking the whole time reading this. What if it turns into some completely deformed child with 3 eyes who grows up in a lab begging us to kill it to put it out of it's misery.. kind of a cliché monster you see in genetic laboratories in the movies... this doesn't seem ethical.

Re:This should be good (3, Informative)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307598)

Assuming it has the right number of chromosomes, and all the basic genetic material is in the right places, it shouldn't be any different than anyone else. It just won't have whatever genetic disease they're trying to eliminate.

If it's unethical, it's because this is a slippery slope to picking the color of your kid's eyes, and how fast they can run. Think about Gattaca.

Re:This should be good (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309012)

GATTACA sir, not Gattaca. As far as the slippery slope we have been on it for a long time. Nuchal scans in pregnancy, 14 week scan, 20 week scan, tripple test and the tests for Talassemia and Cickle cell. So it is not a matter of are we on the slope to GATTACA, but how far are we on that slope.

Re:This should be good (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309506)

Yeah, I agree, we've been headed in this direction for a while now. But now with three parents, we can actually target specific genes and swap them out for "better" genes. A genetic disease today, your specific height or IQ tomorrow. That's the moral issue here, not whether or not the kid will be a mutant.

Re:This should be good (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22310120)

I'd pick blue, or green. But I already do that when I pick my wife.

Re:This should be good (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22310168)

The point I'm trying to make is that we've already been on the slippery slope of eugenics since people started select mates. The technology just lets you go down this slope with a pair of skis rather than with one of those crazy carpets.

Re:This should be good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22308676)

And your horrific spelling. Don't forget that. Retardation that severe is genetic, yes?

Can and Should (4, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307174)

Just because they can, should they? Maybe I'm too cynical, but in a world that's already overpopulated it seems counter-productive in the long run to figure out how to make humans the most expensive way possible. I probably need coffee and a Blank Expression [2600.com] .

Re:Can and Should (5, Insightful)

notorious ninja (1137913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307374)

From the article --

"It could ensure women with genetic defects do not pass the diseases on to their children.

The technique is intended to help women with diseases of the mitochondria - mini-organs that are found within individual cells. "
They most definitely should. :) Sure, the world may be overpopulated, but people want to have their own children, and ensuring that they're healthy seems like a good thing to me...

Re:Can and Should (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307406)

Sure, the world may be overpopulated, but people want to have their own children, and ensuring that they're healthy seems like a good thing to me...
Yes, but when the one leads to the impossibility of the other...

Re:Can and Should (1, Interesting)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308636)

But I feel that they should not destroy embryos to achieve that goal. It may be perceived as OK according to the original article (``began to develop normally, but were destroyed within six days,,) but the destruction of an embryo was perceived as a murder according to a Pennsylvania judge who upheld fetal homicide law in the case of a woman who was charged with assault of a pregnant woman that resulted in the death of the 15-week-old fetus.

but people want to have their own children, and ensuring that they're healthy seems like a good thing to me...
It would seem good to the ancient Spartans as well, so they were throwing unhealthy ones from a cliff. The poor ancient bastards didn't have the technology and scientific knowledge to kill the embryos themselves and avoid embarrassment.

Re:Can and Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22309966)

I trust that you never masturbate and murder helpless sperm.

Re:Can and Should (2, Insightful)

unbug (1188963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307468)

Maybe I'm too cynical, but in a world that's already overpopulated it seems counter-productive in the long run to figure out how to make humans the most expensive way possible.
Hmm, if you want to have fewer humans, then of course you want to make making them as expensive as possible.

Re:Can and Should (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308086)

if you want to have fewer humans, then of course you want to make making them as expensive as possible
Or make it cheaper ter kill 'em. Just quoating that fine Mr Ron Paul...

Re:Can and Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22307478)

Overpopulated? HUH? we have the resources to feed every single human on this planet, we simply choose not to as in leaders and corruption that profit from starving and dying people.

also every single continent has huge expanses of wilderness. Call me when all those are gone and the number of people per square mile is above 30.

Re:Can and Should (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307550)

also every single continent has huge expanses of wilderness. Call me when all those are gone and the number of people per square mile is above 30.
Dibs not Antarctica!

Re:Can and Should (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307502)

Well, one way to look at it is that this would allow condensing of population simpler. Many families are fine with 1-2 children. If you can make a genetic offspring from 3 parents, 2 children, rather than sustaining the number, now actually decreases as the population ages. Do this for 4-5 generation, you would have a reduction by 1/3rd.

Re:Can and Should (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307630)

So what you're saying is, it's our human duty to each have two wives? Anything else is surely just asking for our kids to be living in a world filled with disease and squalor? I think I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter, and just call me if you need any funding for getting into office.

Re:Can and Should (1)

kkwst2 (992504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307810)

Don't you recognize the GP? It's Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. You can send your contributions to his campaign office.

Kidding of course. If you're wishing for two wives, you're clearly not married, or haven't been for long. Hard enough to keep one happy.

Be very careful what you wish for. (Still kidding...not really...yes I am).

Re:Can and Should (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307974)

Point taken ;) Not really planning to get married anytime soon, in fact at the moment I'm spending way too much time and money on improving my experience on Test Drive Unlimited (over £1000 so far on HDTV, steering wheel + sound rocker chair, can't see any wife being too happy with that, especially when I already have a decent enough car IRL :P )

Re:Can and Should (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309700)

Never had anybody compare me to Mitt Romney before...

And who says it has to be two women, with the new UK research able to have men produce eggs and women sperm?

Re:Can and Should (1)

d cobalt (1230690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309064)

This might not be right if people who were previosly unwilling to have children for fear of how they would turn out now are able to. Not to mention that the three could consist of a couple and any third person single or otherwise. These factors might increase the rate of reproduction.

Re:Can and Should (1)

Touvan (868256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307796)

The populations that can afford to reproduce this way are already reproducing at near zero birth rates (or negative in many cases). Birth rates seem to be decreasing in the whole world as well. I think this is fine.

There's a bunch of stuff on wikiepedia [wikipedia.org] about it, I'm referring mostly to stuff I've read or heard recently, but can't quote (don't remember the specific sources), so take it with a grain of salt. ;-)

Re:Can and Should (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308890)

The populations that can afford to reproduce this way are already reproducing at near zero birth rates (or negative in many cases).
Huh? Less than 0 people are being born?

I think I know what you meant, but it certainly isn't what you wrote; there is a difference between birth rates and (net) population growth rates.

Re:Can and Should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22308296)

don't worry to much about over-crowding. As soon as the food runs out, the die-off starts. :)

Like something out of science-fiction (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307184)

It's funny to see this happening with mankind already, since science fiction has long dreamt up advanced human or alien races with triune families, e.g. the Soft Ones from Asimov's The Gods Themselves [amazon.com] , and in Larry Niven's Known Space universe it's one of the social innovations that only comes about in five hundred years or so.

Re:Like something out of science-fiction (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307376)

Biologically three "parents" are involved, but I wouldn't forsee this leading to a social structure of a three-parent family. Given a case where that structure already exists (insert fundamentalist LDS joke here if you must), I could see a technique like this being adopted; but I don't see how the social structure would follow from the technique. To a certain extent, it seems like the point of many fertility-related treatments is to decouple the biology from the social family structure.

Re:Like something out of science-fiction (1)

dasbush (1143709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307412)

I was thinking more along the lines of Gattaca. Fixing faults in our DNA?

Re:Like something out of science-fiction (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307656)

Just leaves you with a small wiener. Well, that's what I took from the film at least - seemed to be the main theme?

Always... (0)

larpon (974081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307186)

Boil your eggs!

asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (3, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307192)

Since mitochondria are only passed by the mother, effectively asexual reproduction of those genes, I assume there's less genetic mixing to keep it healthy (I've heard dad's does get in on rare occasions). Would combining mitochondrial DNA sources instead of replacing be of any benefit?

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (2, Interesting)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307402)

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought this technique was for cases in which the mitochondrial DNA of the mother was already faulty. Unless combining the DNA eliminates the faultiness, I don't think it will help. Unless you meant using the dad's?

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (2, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307590)

You're correct, this study was replacing faulty DNA. But if it's just a segment that is faulty, why replace everything? In many cases, the mitochodria may be worthless, so complete replacement is necessary. But in some cases, having the old one there is like keeping a backup system around. One gets half the job done, the other completes it. Granted, there won't be any DNA swap, so you miss any chance of dumping bad genes over generations. But I still wonder if there could be a net benefit.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (2, Informative)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307748)

That doesn't really work with Mitochondria.

Mitochondria are effecticly self contained bacteria with their own genome, rRNA, and other support structures as if they were real cells. Infact mitochondria replicate like cells inside the cytoplasm. Now they also requier some proteins that are encoded and imported from the nucleus, but they don't release anything except carbon dioxide, water and ATP.

Even if one mitocondria can only do half of the kreb cycle while it's neighbor can do the other half, they still couldn't coolaberate and function as a funcitonal unit.

So long as there are working Mitochondria, the defective one are just wasted resources.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307858)

I should have said jobs, not job. Mitochondria do several things, not just energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondria#Function [wikipedia.org] . So what's to stop one set from doing some and the other doing the others?

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308094)

All the other "jobs" are simply side effects of the energy conversion function (calcium storage and membrane potential etc). The one exception to that is the example of ammonium degridation. This is controlled from the neculus NOT the mitochondria. If the mitochondria can't accept proteins from the nucleus then it will die. But if it can accept anything, it will accept everything with the correct targeting sequence.

Therefore if the gene for ammonia processing is messed up in the genome, it wouldn't matter if you changed the mitochondria.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308182)

You're correct, this study was replacing faulty DNA. But if it's just a segment that is faulty, why replace everything?
Because it's easier to put your CPU (nucleus) into a new motherboard (cell) than to find and fix the fault in the old motherboard (mitochondrial DNA).

It's gonna suck for those tracing maternal ancestry through mitochondrial DNA unless both women's mito-DNA become public record.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (2, Insightful)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307800)

Mitochondrial DNA is always passed on by only the mother, this happens similarly in most metazoans. Mitochondrion present in sperm are marked with ubiquitin so that theyre destroyed once released into the zygote. As for genetic recombination being benificial...not really. Mitochondrial DNA only code for something like 35 genes. Some (like ribosomal RNA) would be completely dibilitating if defective, others not so much. Most of the proteins used in the mitochondria are actually coded in nuclear DNA, so they do benifit from recombination. Mitochondrial DNA actually will mutate fairly often due to the lack of recombination, and problems are common, but they usually arent serious...and often the problems stay sequestered to the area (within the body) where the mutation first occured.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307938)

Thanks. That's the kind of answer I was looking for.

On one note, I thought I read recently that they discovered a very rare instance where the father's mitochondria did survive. So in addition to the mom's guaranteed contribution, there was this odd addition. Not normal, but still an interesting find.

Re:asexual reproduction - sexual reproduction ? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308176)

Would combining mitochondrial DNA sources instead of replacing be of any benefit?

It limits your power from the Force to Gardening.

Awesome! (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307204)

The next step is to implant the embryo into Arnold Schwarzenegger. Get ready for some madcap fun!

Re:Awesome! (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307444)

Worst. Movie. Ever.

Re:Awesome! (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308144)

The next step is to implant the embryo into Arnold Schwarzenegger.


No these are embryos. You must be thinking of steroids.

Re:Awesome! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308286)

Twins [imdb.com] meets Junior [imdb.com] ?

Totally Tubular Threeway (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307210)

One man and two women... the American (het male) dream. Leave it to a bunch of geeks to turn it from sex into a test tube.

Interesting Movie Remake.... (1)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307218)

It would make for an interesting remake of "Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice."

Re:Interesting Movie Remake.... (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307662)

Jebus, it would, like, totally mess up discussions about encryption, about public and private keys...

Nooooooo!!! (5, Funny)

unbug (1188963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307234)

God, I hope they aren't going to patent threesomes now!

Re:Nooooooo!!! (3, Funny)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307552)

Oh, to be in the courtroom when they exhibit the "prior art" :)

Re:Nooooooo!!! (1)

mmalove (919245) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308748)

The jury deliberations could take days... maybe weeks.

Re:Nooooooo!!! (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309844)

I know if I were on the jury, I'd have to see all possible interactions of 2 girls and 1 guy. Hmmmm... I wonder, is there a precedent for *hands-on* jury interaction with the exhibits? You know, to get in the mind of the victim/offender.... that's it, right.

Re:Nooooooo!!! (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307560)

Like that's going to effect the lives of anyone on this site.

Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22307254)

A mere 3 parent?

Serpentor [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bah! (1)

handsomepete (561396) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307462)

From the Wikipedia article: "Serpentor's first action after being created in Springfield, the true home base of Cobra..."

After well over 400 episodes, how have The Simpsons failed to at least have the home base of Cobra shown in the background? That seems like a rather large factual gap in an otherwise very strict representation of the city of Springfield.

Re:Bah! (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307762)

It's obviously all underground. You risk a lot as a terrorist organization if your lair isn't secret. Likely the entrance is on the other side of the mountain. But there is still a visible clue: Mr. Burn's power plant. That's a lot of juice for a small town. The excess is being diverted to the lair.

What would a research scientist do... (3, Funny)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307296)

If he had a million dollars?

Two eggs at the same time...

Re:What would a research scientist do... (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307524)

I tell you what I'd do man. two chicks at the same time man.

I think if I were a millionaire i could hook that up too, 'cause chicks dig dudes with money.

well, not all chicks

the type of chicks that'd double up on a dude like me would.

You're welcome. [youtube.com]

Re:What would a research scientist do... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309164)

Hmm, how can I use this for personal gain?

"Honey, there's new research that says you can make a baby with two women and one guy. What'cha think we give it a try?"

Interesting alternative application? (1)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307338)

IANAB (biologist) but couldn't there be another application for this:
Say a couple want to have a child but they know they will pass on a serious genetic defect.
The article suggests that the baby will have DNA from all three parties and says appearance and "other characteristics" will be like the 'real' mother. But maybe it could also receive the "healthy" DNA strings from the donor egg thereby not passing on the genetic malfunction?

I don't know if this is even scientifically possible, so correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Interesting alternative application? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22307378)

You're wrong.

The reason? You're a nigger.

Re:Interesting alternative application? (2, Informative)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307442)

from TFA:

It could ensure women with genetic defects do not pass the diseases on to their children.
Probably should have read it properly first :P
Nothing to see here, move along. :)

Nuclear vs. mitochondrial DNA (0, Redundant)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307512)

The article suggests that the baby will have DNA from all three parties and says appearance and "other characteristics" will be like the 'real' mother. But maybe it could also receive the "healthy" DNA strings from the donor egg thereby not passing on the genetic malfunction?



That is not going to work, unless the genetic defect was in the mitochondrial DNA of the original zygote. Mitochondria are organelles (kind of like organs for a single cell) that have their own DNA (some suspect that they might actually once have been separate life forms that sort of formed a permanent symbiosis with the rest of the cell). What's in the mitochondrial DNA doesn't affect the rest of the body, as long as the mitochondria are functioning correctly.


The process described in the article is about making a cell that has a nucleus with DNA from two parents, and mitochondria with DNA from a third "parent".

I sense a vergence in the Force (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308538)

Mitochondria are organelles (kind of like organs for a single cell) that have their own DNA (some suspect that they might actually once have been separate life forms that sort of formed a permanent symbiosis with the rest of the cell).

No, you're thinking of midichlorians [wikipedia.org] . :-)

Re:Interesting alternative application? (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308942)

Lezzers who both want to be the genetic mother.

Hmmm... (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307428)

Which joke-reference to make, Serpentor, or Kaaaaahn...

tinker with/?improve? the breed to succeed? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22307494)

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by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Re:tinker with/?improve? the breed to succeed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22308220)

I h8 u.

The Gods Themselves (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307498)

This reminds me of the extra-dimentional aliens in Isaac Asimov's novel The Gods Themselves [wikipedia.org] :

The second part takes place in the parallel universe. This part is remarkable because Asimov rarely describes aliens, preferring tales of humans and robots, but this time he goes into considerable detail.

His aliens have three "semi-mature" sexes (known, for their presumably amorphous form, as soft ones) with fixed roles for each sex, and one "mature" form, (known as hard ones).

Rationals - Called "lefts", rationals are the logical and scientific sex. Rationals are identified with masculine pronouns and produce a form of sperm.
Emotionals - Called "mids", emotionals are the intuitive sex. Emotionals are identified with the feminine pronouns and provide the energy needed for reproduction.
Parentals - Called "rights", parentals bear and raise the offspring. Parentals are identified with masculine pronouns.
All three 'genders' are embedded in social norms of expected and acceptable behavior.

Re:The Gods Themselves (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307798)

His aliens have three "semi-mature" sexes (known, for their presumably amorphous form, as soft ones) with fixed roles for each sex, and one "mature" form, (known as hard ones).
I'm sorry, but that's just too easy so I'm not even gonna make an effort. Asimov rocks though :p Poem by Asimov on cloning [commonplacebook.com]

SPOILER ALERT (1)

HisMother (413313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308016)

The parent post contains a spoiler for this excellent book; don't read the parent post if you haven't already read the book named in the title!!!

Seems to make some assumptions... (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307518)

To be clear, I'm not one of these "we must not play God, we're messing around with things we don't understand" types. At the same time, I do wonder if we understand the principles with which we're working as well as the write-up suggests. On the other hand, that is why we run experiments...

The write-up seems to carry some assumptions from our current model of how DNA and genetic inheritance works. "the nuclear DNA that influences appearance and other characteristics would not come from the woman providing the donor egg"... well, ok. Do genetic researchers understand why "cloned" animals don't always look like the parent? I've never heard it explained, and to my admittedly outsider point of view, that seems to raise some questions about how well we understand what determines "appearance and other characteristics" in complex organisms...

Been there, done that...but now with embryos (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308350)

You can actually buy cell lines and even mouse strains that have defective mitochondria. With these lines you can give them a specific chemical and ALL the mitochondria will be killed. You can then add a different mitochondrial line which will replicate and save the cell...allowing you to study the altered metabolism.

Genetic researchers "know" why cloned animals don't necessarily look alike. A lot of the features we tune in on (spots and other colorations) are based on an absolutly random gene deactivation. Therefor identical twins (or clones) will have different freckles and slightly different hair colors etc.

But also it is important to remember that not all the information needed to create a cell is located in the DNA. All organells (like mitochondria) (with a few very obscure exceptions) cannot be recreated by the cell if removed. Therefore they contain unique information which can have a dramatic effect on the end result of development. These organells come exclusivly from the donor egg (with a few occasional exceptions (like mitochondria every now and then)).

What makes this experiment interesting is that they are now trying to develop finer controls over the clones organells which can help eliminate other diseases.

Re:Seems to make some assumptions... (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309454)

Identical twins have the same DNA but different fingerprints. Some of development is due to random processes. After all, human DNA is only about 10^10 bits and much of it is non-coding. Hmmm, there's a word for that...

Mitochondria don't influence appearance? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307576)

The child's features should still be similar to the parents not contributing the mitochondria, but how about the child's size?

Would the growth of certain features be influence by the mitochondria?

Re:Mitochondria don't influence appearance? (1)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308062)

Not really the growth of features...the function of them, yes. Mitochondrial diseases usually cause the malfunction of the eyes, ears, liver, heart, etc...disorders where the "problem" is sequestered to a certain tissue. Though, there can be broader disorders such as a general intolerance to physical exertion.

Monica Shmonica (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307584)

but a human embryo has been created using the genetic material from one man and two women.

I know its election day in many states, but please, enough talk about the Clintons and their foibles.
     

What was Pope Benedict saying about human dignity? (1)

nebrshugyo (1216152) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307722)

The usual row errupted a couple days ago when the Pope was quoted as saying that (I'm paraphrasing) "some uses of biotechnology are incompatible with and diminish human dignity." Like having 3 genetic parents?

On a lighter note, if there's a divorce (a 3-way divorce?) none of them will pay child support.

mitochondrial dna (1)

inflamed (1156277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307884)

Mitochondrial dna already has little variation between individuals. It is always inherited from your mom and has no bearing on any physical/mental traits unless it's damaged.

Re:mitochondrial dna (1)

Zebraheaded (1229302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308172)

Misleading. Mitochondrial DNA varies quite a lot between individuals. This is due to its high mutation rate due to a lack of "error-checking" like in nuclear DNA. You may have inhereted it from your mom, but certain samples of yours (all your mitochondria will not have the exact same genome) will be different than hers. Also, comparing your mitochondrial DNA to mine, and then our nuclear DNA, our mitochondrial DNA would be far more dissimilar.

Remember efficiency... (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308592)

Also, what counts as "functioning?"

For instance, say you had a slightly less efficient protein that tended to drop things (high energy protons and electrons) before they were completly used slightly more requently than "normal." These dropped high energy particles will typically just generate extra heat or escape into the cell.

SOOO...you could eat more without gaining weight...

OR....
They would be dropped and escape the mitochondria and react with the cell causing oxidative stress leading to signs of aging or even cancer...

Both of these outcomes have been seen in people and both have "normal" mitochondria. While the nuclear DNA has a much stronger effect, mitochondria are critical and will also effect your life and health. Plus mitochondrial DNA mutates at a rate about an order of magnitude faster than nucear DNA (due to proximity to high energy reactions and reduced gene DNA protection systems) so your mDNA is almost certainly different than your mothers.

I thought they already did this. (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22307910)

I recall that they have been planning this for a while. Check out http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6547-scientists-seek-to-create-threeparent-babies.html [newscientist.com] . Funny enough, this was banned in the US, though this is a great way to treat mitochondrial disorders while still keeping the kid from being "the milk-mans" baby....err "milk-womans"?

Its Funny Now... (0, Flamebait)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308276)

...wait 10 years from now. We will have all kinds of freaks of "nature". And, when that happens, you can count on these kinds of things to happen:

1. "Parents" find out at birth that they are not happy with the results - (Billy has six hearts and a fourth of a lung).
2. "Children" that weren't too happy about being a party to Mom/Dads designer genetic tastes - (Billy sues Mom - Dad goes AWOL).
3. "Interest Groups" that go on kill Frankenstein crusades to protect their children.

One could argue this ad infinitum but the fact is that this type of "research" is a dangerous, slippery slope. History will look back on this era as a time for missed opportunities to legislate against this globally. Instead everyone mocks Bush and the Pope.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Hardly insightful... (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308570)

Much like spam, you can legislate against this as much as you want, but with the equipment to do sequencing (currently) and creation (future) getting cheaper and cheaper all the time how do you expect to actually stop it? Also, we're likely to start having true miracle cures -- grow-your-own-replacement-heart in a lab. Or kidney. Lung has cancer? Just grow a new one and entirely remove the old.

You can rant and rave about religion and violating god's creation all you want, but this is just a tool. It will get used for good and for evil, your goal should be to embrace it and ensure that it gets used for more of the former than the latter.

Re:Hardly insightful... (1)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308888)

The tired, old "you can legislate morality..." argument. Your response is so simple-minded and trite that its easy to refute: by your standard we should not throw people in jail for murder because you can't stop murder (there will always be weapons). This kind of lame argument is made by people with a complete ignorance of morality, ethics and law. They can't discuss the subject intelligently so therefore morality-ethics-laws do not exist.

This situation is very different from the liver in the petrie dish situation because we are talking nucleus->zygote->embryo-baby. Billy could and likely will (in the future) go full-term. Little Billy did not ask to be a science experiment. It aint Billy and Billy's parents that will end up paying for special ed and extreme health care. The fact is the Pope and President Bush have consistently made their case based on the civic and social implications, nothing to do with religion or God.

I have my doubts about your knowledge of science but assuming you are more than just a pathetic syncophant, its the short-term opportunists pushing this technology that will drag the rest of society into legal and social quicksand. Look today at all of the lawsuits brought by parents of sick helpless multiples and lawsuits against IVF clinics for genetically defective children. There's more to this than bad or good.

Re:Its Funny Now... (1)

eean (177028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309002)

I don't think having a different mitochondrial mother is really that freaky at all.

Re:Its Funny Now... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22309218)

OR...
Parents can prevent genetic diseases that run in their families
We cure several diseases related to mitochondria
Opens the door to other gene therapies

Fearing the unknown is unworthy of modern man. All knowledge is a double edged and people mock the ignorant because history seems to support the innovator.
Please turn to Bush and Pope as your guide to human affairs...I mean when has the Church or the President ever been wrong.

finally (1)

ca111a (1078961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308618)

something we all dream of and science come together

Is this legal? (2, Insightful)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308634)

The embryos then began to develop normally, but were destroyed within six days.

Okay, so apparently as part of an experiment, just to see if it could be done, they fertilized human eggs, let the embryos develop for a few days, then killed them. Doesn't that bother ANYONE? Did I read that wrong? It sounds like they're creating people for experiments just to kill them! Yeah, I know a lot of you don't believe an embryo is a person, but I'm mainly posting for those who share my view but might have missed that aspect of the story.

RNA loading contribution (2, Insightful)

noco80 (1193081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22308792)

This short article leaves out the interesting issue of maternal RNA loading. Part of the reason the egg is so large is due to the actual production of the egg itself. Whereas sperm cells divide from a stem cell into 2 pre-sperm, then 4 sperm cells, a stem cell divides into 2 then 4 daughter cells. Only 1 of these cells becomes the egg, the other 3 are discarded. However, the other 3 pump their cytoplasm into the egg before being discarded, making the egg much larger. This transfer loads the egg with tons of maternal RNA that is free floating in the cytoplasm. This RNA will be used by the egg and newly formed fertilized cell before the cell can begin to make its own RNA. This maternal RNA does have an effect on the cell and its genetic expression. In this situation, the donor egg will have both mitochondria and its DNA in addition to RNA from the donor. While this RNA is only used for a short time, that time is a critical time in development and can control gene expression for the life of the organism.

So does this mean that (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309214)

I can claim to want a threesome for "pro-creational" reasons?

Yes, I'm bragging... (1)

Cybrex (156654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309648)

...but I predicted (and hoped for) this exact idea several years ago, when I was 1/3 of an FFM triad.

Regardless of the inevitable ethical outcry and the fact that it's no longer directly relevant to my current relationship situation, I think that this a very cool technology. It'd be great if it was developed to the point that viable, healthy offspring could be produced, though I doubt that mainstream society is ready for such things yet.

One Word (1)

icebones (707368) | more than 6 years ago | (#22309788)

KHAAAAAAANNNN!

"whatcouldpossiblygowrong"? (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22310140)

It's so tiresome seeing "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" attached to every science headline. It's an ignorant and cowardly attitude. What is this, a Fox TV show?

Incidentally, plants combine genetic material from more than two parents all the time, so doing this in an animal species is a very interesting thing. It's certainly possible and could have great advantages.
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