News by email Donate


IVF Treatment
UK News

Christian charity urges end to three-parent baby tests after harm to mice

by Aaron James

Scientists across the world have been researching a method called mitochondrial transfer, which extracts damaged cells from a mother's fertilised egg and replaces them with healthy cells from a female donor.

The process can prevent potentially fatal inherited genetic diseases, however church leaders have urged caution over technique - partly over safety concerns as the gene pool is changed and partly over ethical concerns that it could lead to specially bred "designer babies".

Last month UK scientists led by a team from the University of Newcastle announced the results of tests on more than 500 donated eggs that appeared to show the technique would lead to normal pregnancies.

However Spanish researchers at the CNIC research institute in Madrid found that the technique caused advanced ageing and changes in metabolism leading to obesity in mice.

Lead scientist Dr Jose Antonio Enriquez said the results highlighted the importance of avoiding a mismatch between mtDNA and nuclear DNA.

He said: "Just as with organ transplantation and blood transfusion, it is important to select mitochondrial donors, to ensure that the new mitochondrial DNA is genetically similar to that of the mother whose eggs require mitochondrial DNA replacement."

Having to find suitable mitochondrial DNA donors with a good enough genetic match would greatly complicate the business of applying the technology to families.

James Mildred, from CARE, told Premier: "This new research... is yet another example of why there were so many organisations including CARE who expressed very serious reservations about pursuing an ethically troubling new technique.

"Even though it's conducted on mice... it raises some really troubling questions.

"The very diseases that you're actually trying to prevent could actually be sparked by this technique."

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to James Mildred:

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email