Normally, human reproduction is done through the combination of the genetic information from two parents. Since we are a heterogametic species, we require two, morphologically different gametes. While both of these “sex cells” contain only half of the genetic information needed, the divide of responsibility are not equal. The fathers spermatozoa contains only the bare minimum: a head that contains the genetic information, a connecting piece, and a tail for mobility. The mothers ovum contains nearly all the cellular organelles or “machinery” that is needed to form a functioning zygote. One of these organelles is call the mitochondria and is often call the “powerhouse” of the cell. This organelle is unique in that it has its own DNA. What this ends up meaning is that the line of heredity for mitochondria passes exclusively from mother to child. If the mother has a metabolic disease associated with a mutation in her mitochondria, she would pass this condition to her child. Because of this fact a new technique has been developed to help avoid this issue. This technique transplants the healthy mitochondria from a female donor into the mothers ovum. Later the cell is fertilized and a three-parent baby is formed. Recently, this procedure has been put into practice and succeeded, “As far as we can tell, the baby is normal and free of disease,” says Andrew R. La Barbera, chief scientific officer of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. While this is an incredible advancement that will allow the formation of many family that would not be able to otherwise, it does raise ethical concerns. While today it is just a set of functioning mitochondria, many fear it may be the beginning of “designer babies” where parents will pick and choose which traits they want in there child.
Posted by Logan Lassin (2)