sábado, 6 de febrero de 2016

US academy gives green light for three parent babies, but only males

US academy gives green light for three parent babies, but only males

Three parent babies – but only males
The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has recommended that US government allow mitochondrial DNA transfer in male embryos. The Academy made the recommendation in report issued last week, entitled Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social, and Policy Considerations.

The report’s authors recognize the ethical complexities of the procedure, which was approved by the UK Parliament last year, but nevertheless suggest that the DNA alterations involved are minimal enough to make it ethically permissible. As stated in the abstract:

“...While significant ethical, social, and policy considerations are associated with MRT, the most germane of these issues can be avoided through limitations on the use of MRT or are blunted by meaningful differences between the heritable genetic modification introduced by MRT and heritable genetic modification of nDNA. Therefore, the committee concluded that it is ethically permissible to conduct clinical investigations of MRT.”
Oddly enough, the report argues that the procedure should be limited to male embryos. The authors state that it is prudent to minimise the dangers of ‘passing on’ adverse effects of the procedure to future generations, and one way to do this is to begin with males only:

“Intrauterine transfer for gestation [should be] limited to male embryos in order to prevent potential adverse and uncertain consequences of MRT from being passed on to future generations”.
Later in the report they proceed to outline the conditions for an ethical expansion of MRT research to include transfer of female embryos.

The sons-only recommendation has been criticised by researchers in the UK, whose parliament gave the go-ahead for mitochondrial replacement therapy last year without any such restriction.

“I think the UK came to the right conclusion,” says Alison Murdoch of Newcastle University in the UK, whose team is developing mitochondrial replacement therapies. “This would rather defeat the purpose of what we are trying to do.”

At the moment, these recommendations are no more than discussion points, as the FDA is unable to authorize the procedure without Congressional approval – which seems unlikely in an election year.
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/three-parent-babies-but-only-males/11739#sthash.eOdZlOpU.dpuf


I’m sure it’s just randomness and not something in the water, but often our newsletters seem devoted to a theme, be it euthanasia, or IVF, or stem cell research. This time, unfortunately, it’s skulduggery.
Below you can read about a Los Angeles doctor who has just been sentenced to 30 years in jail for prescribing powerful pain-killer to drug addicts, some of whom ended up dead. Then there’s another euthanasia scandal in Belgium in which a 37-year-old woman died at the hands of an incompetent doctorafter being diagnosed with autism. (Autism? Are you kidding?)
The most colourful, however, is the on-going controversy surrounding trachea surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who made headlines for creating artificial windpipes with stem cells. It turns out that his research, his CV and his romantic life all involve a fair bit of unsubstantiated creativity. Some of his patients died, too.
No surprises here. Human nature being what it is, there are bound to be a few bad apples in the medical barrel.
But it should lead us to reflect that governments need to take the possibility of misconduct very seriously when they are crafting legislation for the new genetic technologies. An English academic recently wrote in The Guardian that “playing God with our genes … is a good thing because God, nature or whatever we want to call the agencies that have made us, often get it wrong and it’s up to us to correct those mistakes.”
But if it is people like the doctors above who are playing God, it’s very likely that they will make irreparable mistakes. If scientists want to sack God, they should think very carefully about the CVs of the persons who will be moving into his office. 

Michael Cook



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