The bells of Big Ben may announce on Tuesday the “birth” of a new assisted reproduction technique popularly known as the embryo of three parents. The British Parliament will be the first in the world to comment on the controversial procedure, which is actually transplantation mitochondria (the energy center of cells) between two eggs to prevent transmission of degenerative diseases.
The new technique would allow a mother with defective DNA in their mitochondria cede the core of its egg, which can be inserted into an egg donated by a healthy woman (after removal of its own), and finally fertilized in vitro by sperm father.
Despite the myth of the embryo of three parents, it would be more correct to say both parents and peak … The baby would receive substantially all of the genetic information from parents. Only 0.1% or 0.2% correspond to the mitochondrial DNA of the woman who donated the healthy egg. It is estimated that one in every 6,500 newborns could benefit from technical and avoid serious metabolic disorders that cause defective mitochondrial DNA, responsible for serious neurodegenerative diseases.
Dozens of scientists around the world, including several Nobel laureates, have written to the British parliament to give its approval to the procedure, which could be used from next October by 2,500 women in the UK, leading the way fertility clinics in Western countries.
The Church of England and Catholic have joined, however, Forces to ask Members to vote against the historical modification of the Law of Assisted Reproduction. “It is very strange that intends to license a radical technique that can affect future generations without doing the necessary clinical trials before,” proclaims Archbishop John Sherrington.
The Authority Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) says, however, that 15 years of experimentation in primates have been sufficient and presented three recent studies purporting to show that this is a “safe and secure” procedure to humans .
The most conclusive study, led by Professor Doug Turnbull in Mitochondrial Research Center at the University of Newcastle, will be presented in the coming days. Turnbull defends “the safety and efficacy of the procedure” and responds to critics calling for a delay waiting for more evidence: “If we do not step forward, many women will be denied the right to have healthy children. These are the patients who must make the final decision. ”
Uncertain outcome of the vote
The result of the vote in the House of Commons is uncertain: the major parties have asked their representatives to vote with their conscience. Most Brits pronounce moment in favor of the new technique: 40% vs. 30%. The remaining 30% said, however, that not enough information.
“We are talking about nothing less than to legalize genetic engineering” has warned the Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, at the time of airing the ghost of Brave New World, Huxley. “The new technique involves altering a future human being, replacing some genes by others.”
Experts like Dr. John Gearhart of Johns Hopkins, have stressed the breakthrough that could give the new technique in the fight against genetic diseases, “One in every 200 children is born with defective DNA mitochondria. Most cases are not serious, but one in 6500 the condition can be very serious and even fatal. ”
Mitochondrial diseases such as MELAS, Leigh syndrome or Leber optic atrophy, usually affecting the neediest power organs in the human body and eventually can cause brain deterioration, muscle atrophy or abnormal heart function.
Jessica Newell, a girl of one year afflicted with Leigh syndrome (a neurodegenerative disorder that causes irreversible damage to the central nervous system), will attend the debate today in the House of Commons in the arms of their parents, Vicky and Keith Newell who aspire to be the first to try the new method of fertilization ‘trialogue’ team under the auspices of the University of Newscastle.
“We love Jessica, but his health is deteriorating and piped practically lives,” says the mother of 38 years to The Sunday Times. “We can not even think about the idea of having another child may suffer the same. If MPs vote yes, it will be fantastic, not only for us but for many other families. When you get once the worst news, helps you at least know that there is some hope. ”
“We are not proposing the creation of designer babies, but simply changing a part of the machine is not working well,” argues meanwhile the Nobel Prize in Psychology John Sulston, one of the biggest proponents of the measure to the public opinion. “I think the deputies must read exactly what is being proposed. Could do look back and see the debate caused at the time by IVF. Then there were many people who were scandalized. Now it seems something more normal. “