Correcting Genetic Disorders With Better Genes

This seems like no-brainer wonderful news to me:

The prospect of a human baby with three biological parents has moved closer after scientists created monkeys using a technique that one day could stop children from inheriting severe genetic diseases.

The birth of four healthy macaque monkeys in the US offers the strongest evidence yet that DNA can be transplanted safely from one egg to another to correct genetic defects that damage health.

The successful experiment in a close human relative suggests that it should be possible within a few years to use the method to help women who carry genetic disorders to avoid passing them to their children.

It should allow scientists to replace faulty “cellular batteries” called mitochondria, which affect about 1 in 6,500 births. While most mitochondria defects have mild effects, some can trigger severe brain, heart, muscle and liver conditions, as well as cancer, diabetes, blindness and deafness.

The technique is controversial, however, because the children it creates would inherit genetic material from three parents. The mother and father would contribute most of their child’s DNA but a small amount would come from a second woman donating healthy mitochondria.

Such children would be the first produced by germline genetic engineering, in which genes introduced by artificial means would be passed to successive generations.

Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of the Oregon National Primate Research Centre, who led the research, said that this would be justified because it was the only viable approach.

“The only way to treat these defects is to replace the genes,” he said. “This is gene transfer involving the germline, which is a concern, but we are pursuing it not for general use but for patients with mutations they will pass to the next generation. We believe this technology will prevent that.”

There’s much more to the story, read it all here.  Of course to those who say this is “playing God”—it’s not.   It’s playing scientist.  God doesn’t do everything in His power to stop diseases—scientists do.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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