Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swap Out Genetic Material From One Egg to Another?

Here is food for thought. Your family has a genetic history for bipolar disorder or for alcoholism or for breast cancer. Can you take out the related genetic material and borrow "better", healthier genetic material from someone else? This might be possible sooner than you think. Read on...

Published: January 25, 2010, in the New York Times

Scientists have created baby monkeys with a father and two mothers. Their goal was to eliminate birth defects, but increasing the number of biological parents beyond two could add a futuristic twist to an area where the law already is a mess: the question of who, in this age of artificial insemination and surrogacy, should be considered the legal parents of a baby.

Researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center were looking for ways to eliminate diseases that can be inherited through maternal DNA. They developed, as the magazine Nature reported last summer, a kind of swap in which defective DNA from the egg is removed and replaced with genetic material from another female’s egg. The researchers say the procedure is also likely to work on humans.

The result would be a baby with three biological parents — or “fractional parents,” as Adam Kolber, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, calls them.
He mentioned the idea over lunch at The Times, and it provided plenty of grist for debate among law junkies: Could a baby one day have 100 parents? Could anyone who contributes DNA claim visitation rights? How much DNA is enough? Can a child born outside the United States to foreigners who have DNA from an American citizen claim U.S. citizenship?

What are your thoughts? Please feel free to respond.

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