Genetically tested Biology experts said on Wednesday that modified mitochondrial DNA in people is now morally acceptable, but the scientific community is concerned about what effect gene manipulation would have on society.
a new report From the Institute of Medicine, now part of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, clinical investigation involves mitochondrial replacement technology – using healthy mitochondria from a donor egg – to prevent transmission of mitochondrial genetic diseases from the mother Can be the first step. To the child. Jeffrey Kahn, chairman of the institute’s board on health science policy, said the test is not expected to begin immediately as the US Food and Drug Administration still has to evaluate the report.
According to the report, the replacement technique allows women to have mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, children genetically related to diseases that do not have the condition.
Mitochondria are organelles in cells responsible for energy production. When not enough energy is produced by mitochondria, cells can weaken, injure or die, damaging the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidneys and the endocrine and respiratory systems. According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Diseases vary, but common symptoms include seizures, heart problems, muscle weakness, fatigue, and developmental delays.
Although the alteration of genetic material is worrisome, it is being suggested that an egg is limited to mitochondrial DNA and not nuclear DNA.
“You’re not really able to go in and modify nuclear DNA,” Kahan, who is the deputy director for policy and administration of the Johns Hopkins Burman Institute of Bioethics and the founding president of the Association of Bioethics Directors. “Gene editing will let you do it, but that’s not what this technique is. It’s actually manipulation of eggs or fertilized eggs. It’s very different.”
Nuclear DNA controls a person’s physical or behavioral characteristics and determines how people become, he said, Philip Yaske, a science officer with the United Mitochondrial Diseases Foundation – an advocacy organization for people suffering from mitochondrial diseases. is. Yeske said that the affected technology would have a “huge impact” on affected women who want to have children.
Mitochondrial DNA diseases can affect both sexes, but they are transferred to offspring via females, as mitochondria in sperm do not pass during fertilization. While diseases mainly affect children, adult-onset cases are becoming more common.
“It’s about an unmet medical need for this very small slice of the population,” Yeske said. “It is not about intelligence or hair color selection.”
One in 5,000 women are affected by a mitochondrial DNA disease, Yeske said in a phone interview.
Still, critics worry that clinical trials of mitochondrial replacement will open the door to gene editing to try to produce a superhuman, said Marci Dernowski, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public affairs organization.
“This opens up the sinister social question of moving down the road to a new high-tech consumer-based eugenics and introducing an entirely new type of inequality into our already embarrassingly disparate world,” Darnowski, a Said in telephone interview.
To prevent experimentation with gene selection, Darnowski said that the United States should adopt legislation that prohibits people from selecting specific traits.
“We will have a different political and social context in which we can look at mitochondrial techniques and see if they are really the exception to the rule,” she said.
Despite the concerns, Kahan said it would be “the earliest year” before any mitochondrial replacement technology would be available for public use. Clinical trials can only be conducted when appropriate protocols and restrictions are found, such as those restricted to women who have been diagnosed with very severe mitochondrial DNA disease and a high risk of passing it on to their children. Is, he said.
If successful, the technology will provide an unheard-of opportunity to affected women, Yeske said.
“If these techniques are shown to be safe and effective, they should be offered as an alternative to the community,” he said. “It’s a small population, but I don’t know that we can put a value on that ability for a genetically related child and not pass along an equally fatal disease.”