April 19, 2010
Eggs Made With DNA From 3 People

Researchers at Newcastle University in England have moved the nucleus of a fertilized egg to a different egg in order to avoid mitochondrial DNA diseases.

Researchers have successfully transplanted the genetic material in the nucleus of a fertilized human egg into another fertilized egg, without carrying over mitochondria, the energy-producing structures of the cell. The technique could be used to prevent babies from inheriting diseases caused by mutations in the DNA of mitochondria, which are present in the cytoplasm of the egg.

The researchers haven't yet been given permission to try this procedure to start a real pregnancy. Would US fertility clinics need to ask permission to try this technique to start a pregnancy? Reproductive technologies are much less regulated in the United States.

The mitochondria are sort of like cells within our cells which specialize in generationg energy. Mitochondria have their own small piece of DNA (less than 15,000 DNA letters) that code for several genes involved in breaking down sugar to create chemical energy. Some people carry harmful mutations in their mitochondrial DNA.

A baby created by this technique would end up with DNA from 3 different people. The nuclear DNA would come from the two parents, But the mitochondrial DNA would come from an egg donor.

Things will start to get really interesting when it becomes possible to choose individual chromosomes to put into an egg. Combine that capability with cheap DNA sequencing and suddenly a huge leap in parental control over offspring genetic inheritance will cause an amazing acceleration in the rate of human evolution.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 April 19 12:19 AM  Biotech Reproduction

Mthson said at April 19, 2010 3:41 AM:

I'd love to see a list of predicted dates for when different DNA manipulation technologies will arrive.

Traits that are heavily influenced by a small number of alleles like eye color and skin color will assumedly be focused on early on, and more complex traits like height and intelligence will assumedly come later.

Is anybody aware of a good list of predicted dates for these things?

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