News broke last week of a (now) 5-month-old baby boy born using a controversial technique that combines DNA from three ‘parents’ (two women and a man). Scientists claim that the technique was designed to help couples who carry rare genetic mutations have healthy children. However, it had been banned for many years.
“…I think this is unethical. Though I don’t have a copy of the rules guiding research in genetics, there seems to be greater potential for harm than good here,” said Dr. Nkechi Asogwa, a renowned medical practitioner, whom we contacted for a professional opinion after the birth was reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the boy was born to a Jordanian couple; the woman carries genes for Leigh syndrome – a lethal nervous system disorder. The couple turned to Dr. John Zhang at New Hope Fertility Center, in New York, who has been working on a “three-parent” method of conception called “spindle nuclear transfer.”
In this method, doctors remove the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and insert it into a donor egg that has had its own nucleus removed. This egg – which now contained DNA from the Jordanian mother, along with mitochondrial DNA from the female egg donor – was then fertilized using the father’s sperm.
It was this embryo that was implanted back into the Jordanian mother, who gave birth nine months later.
Dr. Nkechi speaking with Today’s Woman Magazine said “When scientists created the 3-Parent Baby, they killed 4 unborn children in the process. But this fact was not publicized. We only get to hear about the happy ending.”
“Society needs to have an important and in-depth debate over how and whether to permit these nature–and potentially family–altering techniques to go forward. Apart from the ethical issues of killing the embryo from the experiment, this invention puts us in not knowing what sort of mutations and gene aberrations we may have.
“We have a child who is going to be subjected to lifelong experimentation and uncertainty. There would be a lot of lack of privacy and constant follow up like a lab rat or practical specimen.
In the last analysis, children will be seen as products to be designed and engineered in a eugenic manifestation of narcissism by wealthy parents and societies.
“Indeed, this was an unethical human experimentation.”
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