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'Three-person babies' grow up into healthy teenagers

Georgia Everett

Progress Educational Trust

01 November 2016

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[BioNews, London]

Seventeen children conceived through ooplasmic transplantation have all matured with regular health and cognitive abilities, according to a study.

The experimental IVF technique was conducted as part of a previous study led by embryologist Dr Jacques Cohen between 1996-2001 at the Saint Barnabas Medical Centre in Livingston, New Jersey.

Dr Cohen told Medical Xpress that all children, who are now aged between 13 and 18, have 'done well' throughout their lives and the findings are as 'what [they] expected, or at least hoped'.

All couples who took part in the original study were at risk of passing on a mitochondrial disease to their children if they had been conceived naturally because mitochondria are passed straight from mother to child.

Ooplasmic transplantation involves removing some of the cytoplasm – the liquid part of an egg cell containing the mitochondria – from a healthy donor egg and injecting it in to the mother's egg.

The IVF procedure is no longer conducted because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had concerns about the safety of the technique. There are now more efficient methods for preventing mitochondrial disease, such as pronuclear transfer.

Dr Cohen reported his results in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine. The survey-based follow-up study, involving 13 of the children from 12 couples, indicated that their academic capability ranged from good to excellent, BMI was ideal in the high majority, and generally their health was good, bar standard minor ailments such as asthma and mild skin problems.

One child was previously diagnosed with borderline attention deficit disorder, but symptoms later disappeared. The only cause for concern was one child who currently experiences chronic migraines.

The study indicated that only one couple had disclosed to their child the method through which they were conceived – a 17-year-old girl named Emma Foster. Her mother, Susan Foster, advocates the use of such IVF techniques, stating that Emma 'is a blessing and a miracle, and medical science made that possible'.

Further results in the survey indicate that, out of the 11 couples who had not yet disclosed the information to their child, four had no desire to declare it later on in life, and six couples were still undecided.

However, despite the good results, Dr Cohen acknowledges the study design and size was poor. This is primarily due to a lack of standardised instruments and a limited survey from only a selection of participants.

Some researchers remain unconvinced about the safety of mixing DNA from three people. Dr Alan Copperman, director of infertility at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, told Medical XPress: 'I don't think we are yet able to declare victory and that we have figured out how to fix an unhealthy egg or embryo.'

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 01 November 2016   Date Updated: 01 November 2016
Customer Reviews (1)
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Ke-Hui Cui   07 November 2016
M.D., Ph.D.
CHANGING HUMAN BEINGS IN HEREDITY IS MISLEADING AND INFAMOUS In this news report, it said: “All couples who took part in the original study were at risk of passing on a mitochondrial disease to their children if they had been conceived naturally…” This is not the case in Dr. Jacques Cohen’s paper published in 1998: “All the patient couples concerned had experienced multiple assisted reproductive cycles with implantation failure attributable to poor embryo development.” The above discrepancy showed that Dr. Cohen had a feeling of guilt and wished to hide the misleading fact reported in 1998. Nowadays, a lot of IVF centers can easily achieve 100% pregnancy by up to three cycles for a couple who wish to have a child without the complicated animal techniques - mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRT). Most embryologists recently know that Dr. Cohen’s claim in 1998 is totally misleading. In this report, Dr. Cohen’s credit and the credit of the whole “Healthy” report are questionable. Seventeen children were all mature. However, only the health data of 13 children were reported. The distorted and hid data from these 13 children and another 4 children are highly possible. Scientific design of the project related to heredity for animal should have control and experiment groups each contains more than 50 cases with up to at least 10 generations to show the offspring and further male offspring and offspring, etc. are the same as the control. This report showed most of the three-parent children with all kinds of healthy problems which will not happen in so high incidence in normal children of human beings. To use this report to claim “healthy”, “done well” or “safe” is not scientific but misleading and not responsible in design, method, results and conclusion. Intolerable ethical background of MRT makes further producing three-parent children and collecting the whole and creditable data to be not possible, thus the “safety” issue of MRT in human will be lack of a conclusion forever. To use premature and misleading “safe” presumption to put pressure on FDA, congress and human society to change human beings is hopeless forever. MRT produces “three-parental” children is the smoothest saying, which was created by Dr. Cohen to hide the severity of MRT. The key issue of MRT is that MRT changes human beings in heredity or genetics. Any primary and middle school student understands that human beings develop naturally for million years and are the most precious in the world. And they should not treat human as animals. In Dr. Cohen’s (1998) paper, he quoted a lot of animal research papers to confirm his reasonability to perform MRT in human only for the aim of pregnancy. He put animal science as human science. He treated human as animals, and change human heredity as changing animal heredity. It showed that Dr. Cohen is a pseudoscientist in human reproductive medicine. A human scientist should differentiate the difference between human and animal, between human science and animal science. Without ability to differentiate the said difference means not understand human science. There is no ethics between animal and animal. However, there is ethics in human beings. The most important thing in human beings is dignity of human heredity. Dr. Cohen changed the human oocyte gene, and let the babies with three-person genes. That is to change normal human beings to be not human beings, but sub-human beings. That challenge the dignity of human beings in heredity. Without correctly understand human ethics, people are not qualified to work in the field of human medicine, especially in the field of reproductive medicine. Francis Collins, director of NIH stated that “concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed” (NIH, 2015). The simple reason is: the gene modifications would be passed on to future generations forever. Why do Dr. Cohen, Dr. John Zhang, businessmen in OvaSciences, Sir Dr. Winston (in London Hammersmith Hospital, promoter of MRT for British Congress) and so many related media have a “symphony” for MRT in human beings to change gene, and at last to change the whole human beings? Everyone answers: for money. These pseudoscientists and some media use the most beautiful things to attract our patients and a lot new scientists: baby and healthy babies. Although there are many simple methodologies can achieve the same aim without the results to change human beings in heredity, they still mislead people and patients that they have the most advanced techniques to serve the patients. They have misled people for many years, and their way was workable for them. “Healthy babies” is only a card for the pseudoscientists to get more money. The dignity of human beings and the true health of the babies are not their aim. These pseudoscientists said MRT leads to more ATP (energy) for embryo survival. However, MRT could not let the dying or ill (apoptosis) eggs survive well and produce healthier babies. They knew cytoplasm but ignored the health of nuclear DNA. They do not have enough basic knowledge to understand germline biology and physiopathology. When an egg was lack of energy during growth and meiosis, some of its nuclear DNA has already mutated, deformed or changed the condition of methylation and other epigenetic condition. No one in the world can diagnose the whole genomic condition of the specific egg and use the same egg to produce a healthy baby now and in future. The babies produced by MRT are from those eggs on the borderline of survival which would have some kinds of changes already in the nuclear DNA. Those babies with the alteration of their nuclear DNA from MRT will never be healthier than the natural human babies, not mention to the toxic function of the external mitochondria, or the disturbance and disruption of the microtubules (which connecting nuclear DNA) by the harmful animal technique – spindle or pronuclear transfer using on human eggs. The three-parent children will someday ask their parent: “I and my offspring do not wish to be three-parent children anymore. Can you ask those doctors to change me back to be two-parent child?” Mother will tell them: “Not possible in science.” The three-parent children will be very upset. They will said: “I do not have any true friends in all of my life because I can not tell them the truth of mine. I will sue those pseudoscientists, their related reporters and organization to the international court. They are criminals in changing human heredity. They are traitors of human beings. Put them in jail. Ask them to repay all of my damage: from my health, my dignity, my loss of job, my loss of future family, to… etc.” Court will judge. Please also read “HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED IN HEREDITY” published on ivf.net 18 October 2016 comment for “Mitochondrial replacement therapy and the welfare of the child” response on 02 November 2016. Ke-Hui Cui, M.D., Ph.D. 11/7/2016

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