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article imageScientists Create Embryo with DNA from Three People

By Emily January     Feb 5, 2008 in Internet
Scientists in London say they have created human embryos using the DNA from two women and one man. The procedure is one that scientists hope will eventually lead to producing embryos free of inherited disease.
Research has raised concerns creating using genetically modified babies. However, scientists say they aren’t trying to alter genes, just switch bad genes for good ones.
The experiment has not yet been published in a scientific journal, but those responsible say the purpose is to create healthy embryos for couples who have inherited diseases. Such diseases include muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, strokes, and mental retardation. The process could eliminate the passing on of bad genes.
The embryos that contain the DNA of three people occurred when researchers transplanted an embryo created from one man and one woman into an emptied egg of another women with healthy mitochondria, therefore eliminating disease genes. However, only trace amounts of a person’s genes are in the mitochondria, meaning it is technically incorrect to say that the embryos have three parents.
Ten such embryos exist, but they have not been allowed to develop for more than five days. The lead scientist plans to undertake further experiments in order to lead to the ultimate goal: making the process available to parents undergoing in-vitro fertilization.
Similar experiments have occurred in animals in Japan, healthy mice who had their mitochondria genes corrected have been born. However, further tests to assess the safety of the process are necessary before it can be offered regularly.
Other such procedures are available now, with embryos created and then those only naturally free of disease used for implantation. The rest are discarded. This new procedure may eliminate the moral problems associated with destroying or handpicking embryos. However, the new process will also create different questions.
A bill regulating the process is expected to enter Britain's House of Commons in March.
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