Bioethics News

The Mitochondrial Minefield of Three-Parent Babies

December 26, 2016

(Undark) – But for all the accolades, the method also has some experts concerned — particularly after a landmark study published earlier this month in Nature. That analysis, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, head of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, suggested that in roughly 15 percent of cases, mitochondrial replacement could fail and actually allow fatal defects to return, or even increase a child’s vulnerability to new ailments. The findings confirmed the suspicions of many researchers, and the conclusions drawn by Mitalipov and his team were unequivocal: The potential for conflicts between transplanted and original mitochondrial genomes is real, and more sophisticated matching of donor and recipient eggs — pairing mothers whose mitochondria share genetic similarities, for example — is needed to avoid potential tragedies.

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