Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

3-Parent Embryos to stop illnesses in the Mitochondria

Smith, Matt. "FDA considering 3-parent Embryos." CNN. Cable News Network, 27 Feb. 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
One in six thousand five-hundred babies are born with mitochondria related diseases, but there may be a cure. This article explains how using three people’s DNA instead of the normal two could save disease from being passed on. Through a vitro fertilization technique parents will be able to keep their kids from having major illnesses such as muscular dystrophy and respiratory problems. This process, however, will only cure mitochondria related illnesses but it is a step in the future.  This involves three embryos from three different people and if done will not pass on disease of the powerhouse of the cells or the mitochondria.  Although most researchers for this believe that this is a way for families to have healthy children, there is strong opposition from other scientists who feel that this will excel to the point where parents will want their children to become stronger, taller, and faster.  They believe that people will just try to make “super-babies” and that this is not too far off from stem cell research. For now if allowed to be in use it will only be used to cure genetic diseases in the mitochondria but scientists still fear a turn for the worst. Although the meaning of this research is in good heart, what it could become is parents trying to configure the perfect baby.

            This article really affects the human race and what we stand for, not only in a positive way, but a negative way as well. This study can really help babies and stop genetic diseases in the mitochondria from spreading, this of course would be great, but it could also lead to other more devious measures. Right now the current purpose of this research is to stop mitochondria illnesses. This would be great because not only would it reduce the amount of babies born with these diseases by a large percentage but it will save lives and keep innocent people from suffering.  If this were to work it would be a breakthrough in scientific discovery and be a great achievement. However there are two sides to that coin, for many believe that this is will become a way to make the perfect child. This will shift humanity into a place it has not been before for people may literally make their own custom baby. I for one think it is unethical and know that it will only be available to the elite of the world. This breakthrough in scientific discovery is very controversial and could be used unethically but then again it could be used for good and save many people from death and suffering.

            This article was overall a very good read and I highly recommend reading it. It was well written and it dumbed things down to the point that any person who knows basic biology could understand it but also it gets into the details to further explain it. I was shocked to hear that not only could something like this be done but it could be used for bad purposes as well. The only point I felt could’ve been touched up on is the fact that this is not a cure for most diseases although the article makes it sound like this in a way. Once again I loved this article and it was the perfect length to not get too boring but give enough information to understand what is going on.


  1. This is a fascinating topic Scott, and I'm glad you picked it! You report was excellent, but I wasn't so pleased with the article itself. The article I think may have "dumbed things down" a bit too much! It failed to explain what are mitochondria (not everyone knows!) and why they have their own DNA and what this organelle or its DNA does for you! There was a lot of talk of fears of designer babies, but if you know what your mitochondria do (cellular respiration) I don't think that swapping out broken mitochondria for healthy ones is going to result in designer babies that are taller, smarter, or faster. All it does is cure a few rare painful genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

    I thought this article did a very poor job explaining the actual science. There is so much more that could be written about this topic.

    Also, this therapy has already been approved in the UK, and the New York Times and other outlets have been covering this topic for the past year, so CNN is a little behind on picking up the story now.

    Check here for a much more in depth article from The Guardian:

  2. I really liked how Scott presented this article. He summarized the article clearly and efficiently. This was very effective in addressing the audience. I also found the questions raised by the article to be important. Taking advantage of this new treatment could lead to a serious abuse problem. Th explanation of the process was also effective because it was complex, yet easy to understand. Also, I was intrigued by the thought of super babies. The idea of this is absurd and the research should remain to be fighting against the diseases. Another fascinating part was the relationship between stem cell research and the mitochondria. This proved to be very effective. I would suggest that Scott be a little less repetitive. I saw some points repeated in Paragraph 2 that were already stated in Paragraph 1.