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Robert Klitzman: Three Parents, One Baby? Not at All

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, M.S. in Bioethics program director Dr. Robert Klitzman exposed the public’s misinterpretations of mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) – the so-called three-parent baby procedure.

He writes, “MRT opponents, which include some religious and feminist groups, argue that the procedure constitutes genetic engineering, and that having ‘three parents’ may upset the children who are born healthy as a result.”

He explains, “These arguments are flawed. While news media portray MRT as producing children with three parents, the analogy and the way the controversy is framed are misleading. A more accurate analogy would be to organ transplantation.”

“If I receive a kidney from a donor, no one says that I then consist of two people,” Dr. Klitzman writes. “Similarly, to replace less than one out of every 100,000 bits of DNA in an individual with DNA from someone else makes no major difference to the recipient’s identity other than to allow him or her to survive.”

He underscores the significance of MRT as a potentially lifesaving procedure. “The mutations may not affect the mother who passed them on, but for reasons we don’t yet entirely understand, they can affect and kill her children. Mitochondrial mutations can cause or contribute to a wide number of problems—including blindness, deafness, diabetes and neurological diseases.”

“Last February the Food and Drug Administration held hearings and decided to delay trials of this therapy in humans until more research is done,” he writes. “Many physicians, scientists and patients unsuccessfully fought the FDA’s decision. They were right to do so. The decision should be revisited and overturned.”

Read the full article over at The Wall Street Journal.