BioethicsThu Jul 26, 2012 - 12:26 pm EST
Genetically modified 3-parent children hitting their teens
LIVINGSTON, New Jersey, July 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A controversial IVF method resulting in 3-parent babies has recently been debated in the UK, but according to reports brought to light by Dr. Joseph Mercola of the health website Mercola.com, the technique has already been used in the US as far back as 1997.
The birth of these genetically-modified children was indicated in a 2001 report issued by the Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of Saint Barnabas (IRMS), New Jersey, so the children are now over 10 years old.
The IVF process involves transferring the ooplasm of a healthy donor egg into a flawed, or “compromised” maternal egg, which may cause the resulting child to have the DNA of the father, the mother, and the donor.
“Based on what I’ve learned about the genetic engineering of plants,” said Mercola, “I’m inclined to say the ramifications [of this process] could potentially be vast, dire, and completely unexpected.”
The IRMS report stated that 12 “clinical pregnancies” were “obtained” by using the technique, and mtDNA fingerprinting showed that two of the children were born with genetic material from the donor. The report declared that, “in addition to maternal mtDNA, there was a small portion of donor mtDNA observed in their blood.” In other words, both of the children have one genetic father and two genetic mothers.
A later report on the 3-parent children, entitled Cytoplasmic transfer: the risks?, was made at the 2003 World Congress on Controversies in Obstetrics, Gynecology & Infertility in Berlin.
“Mitochondria are maternally inherited,” the report stated, “so if the child is female, the mixture of mitochondria is supposed pass to future generations” (sic). Thus even if no more 3-parent babies are born, the altered DNA can now be passed on.
“One of the most shocking considerations here,” declared Dr. Mercola, “is that this was done—repeatedly—even though no one knows what the ramifications of having the genetic traits of three parents might be for the individual, or for their subsequent offspring.”
The Oxford Journal states that “several IVF clinics” have used this type of cytoplasmic transfer.
“As it turns out, this type of genetic modification, called cytoplasmic transfer, is actually a hot topic among geneticists,” Mercola pointed out, “but it’s rarely published or discussed in the lay press.”
The Hastings Centre, a leading bioethical research institution, has presented a power-point entitled Ethical Issues in Human Ooplasm Transfer Experimentation, which outlines the numerous unknowns of the process, including the lack of adequate testing and monitoring of the 3-parent children.
The 2003 Berlin report declared that, 18 months after their birth, one of the babies has been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
“So it didn’t take long—less than two years, in fact—for reports of ‘unpredictable outcomes’ to crop up,” Dr. Mercola stated. “I for one am not surprised. It’s somewhat disconcerting that so much of this research is taking place without open discussion about the ethical questions associated with it.”