Scientists Use In-Vitro Fertilization to Create Unborn Baby With Three Parents

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 5,

London, England ( — Scientists in England can increasingly be counted on to advance the kind of mad science that used to be confined to substandard sci-fi flicks on late-night television. After cloning animals and creating human-animal chimeras, scientists in Britain have created a human embryo through in-vitro fertilization who has three parents.

A team from Newcastle University say they made the unborn child from DNA from a man and two women.

They say the discovery could result in eliminating hereditary diseases such as epilepsy by ensuring that women don’t pass on DNA defects to their children.

The idea targets problems with the mitochondria of DNA cells that is responsible for passing along some forms of disease to children such as liver failure, blindness, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and deafness.

According to a BBC report, the Newcastle scientists exchanged the mitochondria of cells from one woman with that of another.

The news station indicated the team used 10 human embryos from fertility clinics for their experiments, meaning all ten of the human beings were killed for their research project.

Professor Patrick Chinnery told the BBC, "We believe that from this work, and work we have done on other animals that in principle we could develop this technique and offer treatment in the foreseeable future that will give families some hope of avoiding passing these diseases to their children."

But pro-life advocates are disappointed by the research, which required the destruction of human life to occur.

Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said it was another step towards "designer babies."

"It is human beings they are experimenting with," she said. "We should not be messing around with the building blocks of life."

Roger Stenson of the New Hampshire-based Citizens for Life, told he shared the same concerns.

"Another market that abuses poor women by the dangerous practice of harvesting their ova with the carrot of remuneration," he said. "And more scientists who insist that if it can be done it may be done. And more deliberate killing of human embryos. Just when we think Ethics cannot get any deader."

They told the BBC that any baby produced by the process would have traits from three people but would only combine the looks and other external features of two parents.