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Three Parent Households: Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Joana Murtinheira Faustino

A controversial hereditary treatment was approved in Britain and now the first baby with three hereditary parents can be born in 2015. The procedure will allow that girls affected by devastating hereditary diseases to acquire healthy children. However this procedure will start the screen of DNA changes in humans - something that was long ago chose as unethical. Is this a real discovery treatment or crossing an unhealthy boundary?

The procedure is designed to avoid mitochondrial diseases, including insufficient energy, muscular dystrophy, blindness, brain disorders, heart and soul failure and fatality in the most extreme cases. Defective mitochondria affect one in every 6500 newborns and research suggests that the diseases can be avoided by using mitochondria from a donor egg. You can find two possible methods: the embryo repair and the egg repair. Inside the embryo repair methodology both eggs (mother's and donor's) are fertilised with sperm and the parents' pronuclei, that have genetic information, is swapped with the donor's one and this last healthy embryo is implanted in to the womb. The egg repair consists of taking the nucleous of the egg with damaged mitochondria and placing it in to the cytoplasm of the donor's egg which includes had the majority of the genetic materials removed, but nonetheless is made up of healthy mitochondria. Then the resulting egg is fertilised by sperm.

As mitochondria have their own DNA, the causing baby of this procedure would have DNA from two parents and a tiny amount from another donor. This hereditary modification increases major moral concerns for a number of people. According to consequentialism people should do what produces the best amount of good implications. It is known that with this procedure, these women would be able to have genetically related healthy children. However, is this result strong enough to justify the beginning of human genetic improvements? Which way contributes to the greatest amount of good implications?

Since it is an intrusive manipulation of embryos there are risks associated. It is not possible to assure that new diseases wouldn't normally come out of this treatment anticipated to some relationship between DNA of mitochondria with the nucleous DNA, for example. If the procedure is relatively new, not much information about long-term health effects are known. Therefore, no medical benefits would emerge for the kid or the mother.

The mother can have genetically related healthy children, which signifies a social benefit to her, not really a medical one. As the DNA swap occurs at the "germ brand" the donor's DNA would pass on to any future years down the feminine line and not only to this first child Thus, the procedure would represent a means of stopping the disease of being passed on to their future years. Nevertheless, it could also be changing the genetic information of the family; that it'll always have the donor's DNA included. Would this have implications for future individuals?

Opponents to this treatment declare that are other options that may be considered for these circumstances such as adoption or egg donation. Is adoption really a choice? Individuals who desire to have their own children will not see adoption as option. You won't be a good relationship between parents and child if the followed child is seen as a second option and not a desired one. Through egg donation parents are not genetically related to the kid which treatment would allow them to be.

Another of the major concerns related to the strategy is that the next step would be completely altered genetic newborns since the type of performing changes in real human DNA would be already crossed with this procedure. It's been referred to as a "slippery slope" for culture that can lead to other varieties of genetic changes.

There are several questions that require to be solved. Would the kid have personality problems since it would have genes from three people? What will be the role of the "second mother"? Would she have the same position as other egg donors or could be considered a legal father or mother?

Apparently there was not enough question about this matter. Usually, people get very scared of the pioneer changes that can be one small step away from a worst circumstance scenario. Moreover, it is easy for folks to associate genetic modifications with reports described in books or cinema, as dystopian societies are depicted many times. A dystopia [1, 2] is a place that is in some important way undesired or frightening; it's the contrary of utopia. Dystopias tend to be characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental catastrophe, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic drop in modern culture. Usually they may actually draw attention to real-world problems with respect to society, politics, economics, environment, religion, mindset, ethics, and science and technology, which if unaddressed could potentially lead to such a dystopia-like condition. Two instances that address to hereditary modifications are Brave " NEW WORLD " and Gattaca.

Brave " NEW WORLD " [3], a novel that was also designed to a movie, identifies how developments in reproductive technology, coupled with others, are in charge of profoundly changes in population. Natural reproduction is no longer done. Instead, children are stated in "hatcheries and conditioning centres" and divided into castes and designed to occupy predetermined positions in the cultural and economical life. A couple of five castes: "alpha" and "beta" are able to develop obviously but "gamma", "delta" and "epsilon" are produced to have imprisoned development in cleverness or physical development.

In the truth identified in Gattaca [4] (the title is based on the first words of guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA) children are conceived through genetic manipulation to guarantee they own the best hereditary characteristics of the parents. The primary identity was conceived outside the program and fights to overcome genetic discrimination. Characters battle with contemporary society and themselves to find what their devote the globe is and who they are destined to be regarding to their genes. This way, the movie can draw attention over reproductive technology and the possible results of such scientific developments for modern culture.

By allowing this treatment, are we heading towards a dystopian population like these ones described?

On the other side, despite all the concerns that the treatment involves should the evolution of technology be stopped? If it would be fully controlled and the results well analyzed, why should this treatment be ceased? Why should not these mothers be permitted to have access to this known treatment? A lot of people hold the desire to have their DNA related children which treatment seems the only choice for these women, also halting the disease of being passed on to their future years.

Medical researchers protect that the debated changes does not affect fundamental DNA, the the one which will determine individual's characteristics such as facial features or eyeball colour. Therefore what it is under dialogue are not designed babies but a treatment of several diseases.


  1. Merriam-Webster (2014). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from http://www. merriamwebster. com/dictionary/dystopia.
  2. Oxford Dictionaries (2014). Oxford University or college Press. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from http://www. oxforddictionaries. com/definition/english/dystopia?q=dystopia
  3. Brave " NEW WORLD ", http://www. huxley. net/
  4. Gattaca (1997), http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0119177/
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