Just recently in the scientific world there was a surprising discovery. Not only did it cause a scandal and split society into two opposing camps, but it also reassured a great many people who are unable to have healthy offspring. Geneticists have concluded that having a child from one father and two mothers is not only realistic, but also makes it possible to avoid passing hereditary diseases to the fetus.
Such parents are guaranteed by doctors to have a 100% healthy child who does not lose the resemblance to his or her relatives.
How is it done?
Fertilization of a woman’s ovum occurs in exactly the same way as in the well-known IVF procedure. But there is an important technical nuance. First, in a microbiological laboratory, the nucleus is removed from the mother’s oocyte and replaced with the nucleus of another woman’s oocyte, say, obtained from a donor. The egg is then fertilized with the father’s seed and returned to the mother’s womb. We know of at least two such children born to three parents, one in Mexico and one more recently in Ukraine. True, Ukrainian geneticists have changed the technology a bit. They first conducted an artificial insemination of both oocytes of women – the donor and the mother, and then already carried out the replacement of the nucleus of the mother’s oocyte with donor material. The creators and participants of the experiment were satisfied with the result.
Why is it necessary?
Such diseases as congenital blindness, deafness, brain, kidney, blood, liver and heart diseases are transmitted through the mother. They are “written” in the mitochondrial DNA that makes up the nucleus of a woman’s egg. Replacement of damaged DNA with healthy DNA dramatically changes the further physical development of the fetus. Important genetic information codes, such as likeness to the mother, height, eye, skin and hair color, are also “written” in other areas of the egg, and the future human being is sure to inherit them from his mother. As well as from a donor. The nucleus of a woman’s egg contains many different kinds of information. In other words, a DNA test on such a child will necessarily reveal the motherhood of both women, with a 50-50 probability, although there may be variations. And there are ethical, moral and legal issues here that have already split the scientific world.
“Man is new and improved.”
Many world-renowned scientists have taken the news of the scientific breakthrough in human genetics rather tepidly. They believe that the new method of fertilization of the egg “opens wide the door” to genetic engineering, which at the moment remains under a ban in almost all countries. In the event that the three-parent method of conception will be widely used, humanity will in fact receive “genetically modified” children. After all, in this way it is possible to remove hereditary obesity, left-handedness, short stature, large nose, and introduce, for example, innate plasticity of movements, perfect musical hearing, muscular endurance. In any case, we can say that in a couple of generations of people born of three parents on earth may disappear hereditary diseases such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, hemophilia, birth defects – “cleft palate” and “cleft lip. But from a moral and ethical point of view, this is still very difficult to accept, especially in a conservative society.
The process is underway!
And yet the first steps have been made. Several states have enshrined in their legislation permission for such a reproductive service. And such laws were adopted not by the super-democratic United States of America or by the Netherlands, which is free from many rules. Island countries, where people have been intermingling in marriages for centuries and have become distant relatives, were the first to take care of their populations, sometimes without knowing it.
So back in 2005, a law was passed in New Zealand, which provides that a child born with the participation of a donor has three documented parents. In the Australian state of New South Wales, there has been a debate since 2007 that children somehow born with a donor should have records of all of their genetic parents on their birth certificate.
Finally, a few months ago, it was legalized in Great Britain and Ireland to receive children from three parents. The technique, known as mitochondrial replacement, was approved by the House of Commons and the Embryology and Fertility Office. British and Irish people with hereditary diseases can now perform “triple IVF” and finally become parents of healthy children.