Unregulated fertility technologies are being used to create babies

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/07/unregulated-fertility-technolo.html

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Of course not. We can’t have the poor people getting access to genetic engineering. /s

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I hate to break this to you, but therapies are not regulated in the USA at the federal level. Manufacture and marketing of therapies are. But doctors are pretty much permitted to use any therapy they see fit. If they do it themselves, or it is done by prescription, then just about anything goes. This is one of the core principles in Roe v Wade. A doctor and patient can can pretty much decide for themselves what is best. Just an FYI you might want to consider as you frame arguments for regulating therapies.

This isn’t to say there aren’t breaks on the system. Hospitals have committees that act as filters. There is the chance of a malpractice suit. And loss of license is always there. Some states set guidelines for certification of people and facilities. Probably several others checks and balances.


Welp, greatgrandkids of mine, have fun with that eugenics war!


Unregulated fertility technologies are being used to create babies

You mean, teenagers?


Couples have been using unregulated fertility technologies to concieve children since at least the invention of the turkey baster.


While I agree, I do think there is a point at which the level of intervention increases the odds of much more subtle problems, some of which may appear at any point in the lifespan.

Fundamentally, a penis isn’t much more complicated than a turkey baster anyway. But getting mitochondrial DNA from a third party brings in potential complications with how mitochondrial and nuclear DNA interact. We already have plenty of natural examples of how genes affect lifelong health and maximum lifespan. I can’t really advocate doing 80 year large scale longitudinal trials on new fertility treatments, but some caution seems warranted.

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What is the motivation behind merging three sets of DNA?

The mitochondria are not inside the cell nucleus. They swim alongside. So the nucleus has two, and then the mitochondria has its own genetic material, which is inherited only from the egg, therefore the mother.


Unregulated fertility technologies

Those were called booze & weed when I was a youngster.


The genie is out of the bottle with this.

I assert, without proof, that it’s a near certainty there exist actual human clones already.

Whether they are for vanity, or organ transplant banks, I believe they are out there.

Roger That!

Since mtDNA is only passed on by mom, all of these conditions are maternally inherited. The problem is that all of the mitochondria live in the cytoplasm of the cell and there are hundreds of copies (as opposed to nuclear DNA in the nucleus, of which there are 2 copies). While “healthy” folks have mtDNA that’s all “normal,” folks with disorders that affect mtDNA has a mix of “normal” and “mutated” mtDNA (aka, heteroplasmy). And there is no way to control what gets passed along to an offspring, nor is their any good way to screen embryos or fetuses (as there is for autosomal dominant or recessive conditions). Check out the Maternal Inheritance section of this article for more info: http://www.umdf.org/what-is-mitochondrial-disease/inheritance-and-genetics/

In short, merging 3 sets of DNA allows a woman with a problem in mtDNA to avoid passing along mitochondria, but her nuclear DNA would be preserved, so her offspring would still be genetically related to her. Up until this point, you’d have to use the entire donor egg (and, thus, the baby wouldn’t be related to Mom…unless the egg donor was a maternal relative). So, the primary motivation is to have a child that avoids a disabling condition but is still genetically related to both mom and dad (and not just dad).

Hope that helps explain things a bit without getting too complicated – mitochondrial disorders are REALLY confusing, especially since some of the problems in the mitochondria are caused by nuclear DNA and not mtDNA. So, if you read anything more about this topic, keep in mind that these “3-parent” only address the problem of mitochondrial disorders that are coded on mtDNA and are maternally inherited.


Came here looking for that, leave satisfied.

Well, for 10 min or so, anyway.


My child is someone who is affected by a mitochondrial condition that is the result of a deletion from nuclear DNA. My partner and I are in the process of doing testing to find out if this was inherited or spontaneous — but even then, we can’t completely rule out heredity on the basis of mosaicism. (Mosaicism is fantastically unlikely, but possible. But then again, it also isn’t any more unlikely than this particular genetic condition turning up in a person in the first place.) The condition is so debilitating, and so poorly understood because of its exceptional rarity, that unless some therapy is available, we may never have other kids. I worry that America is so over-cautious with any genetic testing or therapies that we may find ourselves in a very hard spot.

It is very good to see these kinds of issues brought to the forefront in reporting. It’s something, at least.


And people wonder where the next generation of deplorables is coming from.

Are you cloned right now!?


Not really: once something is approved (under any of a number of possible standards) ‘off label’ use is pretty much limited only by what insurers will pay for(whether they be the patient’s coverage or the doctor’s malpractice insurer).

Off label application of unapproved drugs and techniques, though, doesn’t really fly. (Unless you count various research and compassionate use things; but those are basically specialist approval flavors).