In vitro fertilization procedure could eliminate deadly disease

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A healthy baby is what every parent wants. If researchers get FDA approval, it could be more of a reality for women who carry the gene for mitochondrial disease.

“They don’t usually like to reproduce for the fear of having an affected child that is going to be either suffering tremendously or is even going to die prematurely,” said Dr. Pasquale Patrizio.

Noted fertility specialist, Dr. Pasquale Patrizio, at Yale School of Medicine says that bringing together a mother’s egg, a father’s sperm and the mitochondria of a donor’s egg in order to eliminate a devastating illness is a progressive move.

“These mitochondria are so very, very, very tiny pieces of cellular power and they are going to be retrieved from this donor egg, and they are going to be inserted in the egg of the patient that is affected,” he said.

Also a bioethicist, Dr. Patrizio sees no moral issues with a procedure specifically targeting a disease.

“The genes, the main component of that individual, are still Mom and Dad. What the individual will have is the power supply cells, mitochondria, that belongs to the person that donated the mitochondria,” he said.  

Still, he acknowledges the advancement in fertility leads to a slippery slope.

“If you can fix the mitochondria, why don’t you also put in some genes for height for athletes – well that’s not possible,” he said.

Dr. Patrizio says that designer babies are ‘not’ even close to becoming reality.

“The genes for the color of the eye, for the height, for the intelligance, they are very poorly collectovized at the moment and no one I know is doing any experiment to this regard.” he said.



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