The future of genetic alterations and genetic engineering is awaiting a great stride ahead as the British MPs have just voted in favor of legalizing IVF techniques for genetic alterations to eliminate diseases in babies even before they are born. The final approval is likely come after the Lords do the same with the raised amendment. However some negative ethical issues are being raised which can make the Lords delay the amendment from getting the final go.
The experts are divided on the issue and voices from the both sides of the argument can be heard. In spite of all these debates and division in opinion the final decision is likely to be positive. However such a decision for the progression of science and technology and for their application in the field of human development was just a matter of time before being approved.
The IVF technique in discussion will be used to replace the mitochondria from a woman having mitochondrial condition that may result in sure diseases in their new born babies. It is so because there are patients suffering from genetic mutations in their mitochondrial genes that generally pass to their progeny. An estimation reveals that there are 2473 Women presently suffering from such a condition in UK and they will be directly benefitted by the decision. The successful application of the law and the technique will be able to positively affect 150 new births per year. This estimation however was based on the proportion of women known to be at risk in the north east of England, so does not take into account variations across the UK or US in terms of ethnic diversity or average maternal age.
Almost all of our genetic materials are contained in our cells’ nucleus but a small amount of genetic material are there in the cellular structures named mitochondria. Many women suffer from mitochondrial DNA mutation. IVF aims to replace the mutated mitochondria and replant the genetic materials within a healthy mitochondria from a donor.
There are two IVF techniques that the scientists have invented and both the techniques are heavily debated. The techniques are known as pronuclear transfer and spindle transfer.
Any such procedure involving changes in the gene or the DNA has been accompanied with heated debates and arguments both in favor and against such practices. Opposition raises such ethical questions like the future conditions, both psychological and physical, of the new human that is going to be the outcome of such a process. How they will react to the knowledge that they are from three parents? And there may be physical dangers too as the process is still not tested in humans. Furthermore there always lie the dangers of misuse in case of such a technique.
Nonetheless there always will be assumed dangers but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the progression of science has to be paused for that. So, we can hope that the Lords will take the positive decision and will legalize the practice very soon. Apart from the benefits that the couples suffering from mtDNA will get from this legalization, it will also make the UK the leader in this specific scientific field.