domingo, 12 de junio de 2016

BioEdge: 3-person babies may not be as close as media suggest

BioEdge: 3-person babies may not be as close as media suggest

3-person babies may not be as close as media suggest

The headline in the BBC was “Three-person babies IVF technique ‘safe’”. This echoed the press release from Newcastle University: “New safety and efficacy evidence for mitochondrial donation revealed”.

The news was that UK scientists have published a paper in Nature claiming that a technique for ridding a woman’s egg of defective mitochondria -- which was legalised last year -- has been proved safe. What failed to surface in the news coverage were other headlines only a month ago over stories which reported American research that the “three-person baby” technique was unlikely to work because some of the defective mitochondrial DNA carry over.

Which is right?

A thoughtful analysis of the two papers by stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler, of the University of California, Davis, suggests that the British scientists might be painting too rosy a picture of the controversial technique.

"ln my view, together this new Herbert group paper [from the UK] along with Egli’s relatively recent paper [from the US] ... clearly indicate that the field is not ready to use this technology to create actual people. It would be reckless to do so now without getting more data first. To their credit, Herbert’s group acknowledges the challenges in discussing their data in what is a very important paper.
British newspapers were highlighting claims that 3-person babies could be born within a year. But Knoepfler is sceptical:

The overall take-home message here from this Herbert group manuscript and the one from Egli’s group is that mitochondrial replacement therapy is not ready for use in humans and substantial additional data over the next few years is needed first before even considering proceeding.

I believe it also concretely shows that the legislative approval of this technology for use in humans in the UK last year, based in part on vigorous claims from proponents in the UK that there were plenty of data already, was more political than scientific.

And, yes, I’ll probably get in hot water for saying this.
- See more at:


You probably remember the scene in The Matrix in which Morpheus explains to Neo the terrible secret: “You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
In the jargon of The Matrix, I’m a blue pill person and believe that I’m in touch with reality. Perhaps I am deluded.
Elon Musk, billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the boss of Tesla and SpaceX, on the other hand, is definitely a red pill person. Last week he told a conference of geeks in San Francisco that we are probably part of a powerful computer simulation. In fact, he estimates that "There's a one in billions chance that this is base reality”. (See story below.)
Musk is an intelligent man, but I wonder if he understands the ethical implications of the red pill. If we are really marionettes in a super-human intellect’s simulation of reality, nothing much matters. Certainly worrying about right and wrong is a waste of time. Human life doesn’t matter much either, as we are all just blips in a gigantic computer game. There’s not much incentive for social solidarity.
What do you think? Are we living in The Matrix?

Michael Cook

This week in BioEdge
by Michael Cook | Jun 11, 2016
Specialists call for red tape to be cut to allow simpler donation procedures.
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A 39-year-old man has requested euthanasia because he fears that he may be a paedophile
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As soon as assisted suicide became legal, Lonny Shavelson was in business
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Extraordinary musings from Silicon Valley entrepreneur
by Xavier Symons | Jun 11, 2016
Parliamentary committee in Australian state calls for legislation
by Michael Cook | Jun 11, 2016
Nature article by UK scientists claims method is safe, but there are questions
by Xavier Symons | Jun 11, 2016
The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that Ireland’s abortion laws are a violation of human rights.
by Xavier Symons | Jun 11, 2016
Australian IVF clinics will require donor recipients to be tested for pregnancy.
by Nelson Michael and Xavier Symons | Jun 08, 2016
Recently we spoke with COL Nelson L. Michael about bioethical deliberation in an age of rapid social and scientific change.
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