Last April, Dr. John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center announced that they had successfully engineered an embryo through a procedure called “spindle nuclear transfer.” It is when faulty mitochondria from the mother’s egg are replaced with the healthy mitochondria of another woman before it is fertilized by sperm. So, essentially, there are three parents.
If weakened mitochondrial DNA is passed on to a fetus then it could inherit one of many rare diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes or heart problems. A healthy baby boy was born in Mexico after last year’s procedure, but the US Food and Drug Administration recently contacted Zhang and are warning him to stop marketing it.
They have not yet authorized it for human testing and Congress has banned it since its a genetically modified embryo. The reason why they’re coming for him is because in an article he published, Zhang claimed that the embryo was made in the U.S. which is a big no-no.
“Zhang used the technique last year in an attempt to prevent Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological condition that affects at least one in 40,000 newborns. The mother he treated had previously miscarried four times and given birth to two children, one of whom survived less than a year and another lived for only 6 years, both due to the syndrome.
On April 6, 2016, the mother gave birth to a reportedly healthy baby boy. “Transfer of the [normal] embryo resulted in an uneventful pregnancy with delivery of a healthy boy at 37 weeks of gestation,” wrote Zhang and his co-authors in the published study.”
Roommates, do you think that this type of practice is too close to playing God or do you think that many people could benefit from this procedure?
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