FDA Asked to Approve Creation of Genetically Modified Children Tags: FDA genetically modified children Brave New World

image (1)In a public meeting scheduled for February 25-26, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will consider approval of experiments to produce children by the in vitro fertilization of an egg containing DNA derived from both the intended mother and another woman. Although such large-scale genetic engineering has never before been attempted in humans, the procedure — to create “three-parent babies” — is paradoxically being touted by its developers as a relatively trivial tweaking of the reproductive process to enable women with compromised eggs to become genetic mothers of unaffected children. These claims of high impact health benefits from a low-risk procedure cannot be squared with scientific reality.


The FDA’s meeting announcement promises to “discuss oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility.” But while an oocyte (the immature form of an egg) is an absolute requirement for generating an embryo, and ultimately a new person, the immature eggs to be modified are not those of the women seeking assistance in child-bearing. A second woman would contribute the “healthy” egg; the woman arranging for the procedure would contribute only the genes extracted from one of her own eggs.

The only reason a prospective female parent would consider the procedure, known as “maternal spindle transfer” (MST), is if her own oocytes contained impaired mitochondria, or energy-extracting organelles. Only a handful of women who are affected by certain forms of mitochondrial disease would be candidates for MST, and they could use existing and far safer IVF techniques to have a healthy and genetically related child. But the researchers working on MST at Oregon Health Sciences University and Columbia University are eager to move ahead with it.



One can make arguments in either direction about which of the female parents in an episode of MST is the “mother,” but biologically speaking, the woman who provides the egg has a unique role in the reproductive process. To see why this is the case it is helpful to note that many animals — some fish and frogs under natural conditions, and experimentally, mammals — can produce embryos from the egg alone, without fertilization. Such “parthenogenesis” is not possible starting from an oocyte’s chromosomes or even an intact sperm cell.

The egg is essential because in addition to its mitochondria it contains hundreds of different protein and RNA molecules it incorporates during its formation in the egg producer’s ovary. This information directs the use, or “expression,” of the transferred genes at the early stages of the embryo’s development. From the standpoint of the woman who contributes this one non-redundant ingredient, the extent of genetic engineering of her egg in MST is massive.

The FDA refers to MST as “oocyte modification,” an understandable framing by a regulatory agency primarily concerned with the technique’s safety. Specifically, if it could be established that the procedure generates embryos from a healthy oocyte modified with sound components, the FDA could justify certifying it. But as we have seen, the woman whose oocyte would be modified (extensively, as we have seen), is not the woman who intends to be the parent of the resulting infant.

For the researchers working to develop MST, the objectives are different and so is the framing. These advocates have an interest in maximizing the potential benefits while minimizing the extent of the intervention. Their characterization of the procedure as “mitochondrial transfer” or “mitochondria donation” has been adopted by journalists and even by critics of the procedure.

It is clear, however, that much more than mitochondria is being transferred or donated in MST. This is obscured in most reports on the subject, even in scientific journals. A recent report in the journal Nature states, “The technique [combines] genetic material from a mitochondria donor, the mother who provides the nucleus and a father.” To use the emotive term “mother” only for the donor of the maternal set of chromosomes downplays the unique biological role of the egg and of the woman who contributes it. It has the further effect of endorsing the false assertion of MST’s advocates that the procedure comes down to the transfer of a few (i.e., the mitochondrial) genes. What is actually being transferred are 20,000 or so genes provided by the chromosome donor.


Neither the FDA, with its charge of protecting safety, nor prospective clients, with their desire for an effective outcome, should be heartened by the outcomes of experimental evaluation of MST. Half of the human eggs tested underwent abnormal fertilization, with excess DNA being carried over to the embryos, resulting in chromosomal abnormalities. This phenomenon was rarely seen with animal eggs experimented on in the same fashion. As one of the principal MST scientists acknowledged to a Nature reporter, “It looks like human oocytes are more sensitive.”

Other scientists have suggested that co-evolution of mitochondrial and maternal nuclear genomes has selected against deleterious genetic incompatibilities. Animal experiments have indicated that these could be reestablished, to the detriment of the engineered child and the wider human population, in the proposed “mix-and-match” experiments.

Nonetheless, the FDA, following in the tracks of the British Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority which has already approved a similar technique, is taking steps that may eventually lead to the procedure’s becoming an option in assisted reproduction for a small group of affected individuals. But because it is a much more extensive manipulation than advertised, it will open the door to routine applications of germline (i.e., inheritable) gene modification. In particular, once the transfer of an entire haploid (i.e., one-parent’s) set of chromosomes into a woman’s egg is considered acceptable, transfer of a smaller number of chromosomes or genes will be a much easier sell.

Narrow and selective application of scientific information can be misleading about the contributions of, and impacts on, each of the adult participants of MST. Few would disagree that the biologically most relevant perspective for judging the procedure is that of the new individual who would be brought into being by it. This person would develop from a fertilized egg in which all but a few genes (those of the mitochondria), not just those of the male parent, come from a source other than the egg itself. This clearly makes any such person a product of wholesale genetic engineering. We do not know nearly enough about the process of embryonic development for the FDA to even contemplate approving this procedure.




Complex 3D DNA Structures Created Tags: mad scientist syndrome

Complex 3D DNA Structures Created


It's Officially Time to Freak Out, Now.

Alexandra Bruce
December 8, 2014

When I first heard of nanothechnology some 20+ years, ago, I instinctively knew that a main focus of this would be genetics, because the most significant and highly-functioning items in the material universe, at the nano-scale are DNA & RNA molecules.

Well, as of this MIT report, it's officially time to freak out, now. The "Grey Goo" proposed by some and feared by many about F'ing with Mother Natuer may, I daresay be upon us, soon...

MIT biological engineers have created a new computer model that allows them to design the most complex three-dimensional DNA shapes ever produced, including rings, bowls, and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles.

Call me a Luddite...but Pandora's Box of "fun" awaits.


Video produced and edited by Melanie Gonick, MIT News
Computer renderings courtesy of Dr. Keyao Pan (LCBB)/Nature Communications

3D structural predictions were generated using CanDo by Dr. Stavros Gaitanaros (LCBB) based on sequence designs provided by Fei Zhang (Hao Tan Lab at Arizona State University).


Want solar panels? Just give your roof a spray: Scientists discover way of applying light-sensitive material to surfaces Tags: solar energy technology spray light sensitivity
  • Scientists from University of Toronto hope to make breakthrough soon
  • Solar-sensitive spray printed on flexible film could coat all kinds of objects
  • Surface of car roof could produce enough power for three 100-Watt bulbs


Rather than blighting rooftops as at present, future solar panels could be sprayed onto tiles by a Ghostbuster-style team.

Scientists from the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs).

Illan Kramer at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering said: 'My dream is that one day you'll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof.'

Illan Kramer (pictured) from the University of Toronto's Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering is one of the driving forces behind the developement

Illan Kramer (pictured) from the University of Toronto's Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering is one of the driving forces behind the developement

Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of objects from laptops to aircraft wings.

The surface of a car roof would produce enough power for three 100-Watt light bulbs or 24 compact fluorescents.

And the breakthrough could send prices of solar panels crashing.


The system sprayLD is a play on the manufacturing process called ALD, short for atomic layer deposition, in which materials are laid down on a surface one atom-thickness at a time.

Until now, it was only possible to incorporate light-sensitive CQDs onto surfaces through batch processing - an inefficient, slow and expensive assembly-line approach to chemical coating.

SprayLD blasts a liquid containing CQDs directly onto flexible surfaces, such as film or plastic, like printing a newspaper by applying ink onto a roll of paper.

Potential breakthrough: Rather than blighting rooftops as at present, future solar panels could be sprayed onto tiles by a Ghostbuster-style team

Potential breakthrough: Rather than blighting rooftops as at present, future solar panels could be sprayed onto tiles by a Ghostbuster-style team


Link to Video:


This roll-to-roll coating method makes incorporating solar cells into existing manufacturing processes much simpler.

Two papers published in the journals Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters showed that the sprayLD method can be used on flexible materials without any major loss in solar-cell efficiency.

And the system is easily built using a spray nozzle used in steel mills to cool steel with a fine mist of water and a few regular air brushes from an art store.

He added: 'This is something you can build in a Junkyard Wars fashion, which is basically how we did it. We think of this as a no-compromise solution for shifting from batch processing to roll-to-roll.'

Professor Ted Sargent said: 'As quantum dot solar technology advances rapidly in performance, it's important to determine how to scale them and make this new class of solar technologies manufacturable

'We were thrilled when this attractively manufacturable spray-coating process also led to superior performance devices showing improved control and purity.'

Thing of the past? Traditional solar panels may no longer be the best way to harness the sun's energy

Thing of the past? Traditional solar panels may no longer be the best way to harness the sun's energy

Read more: 

Search a Blog

December 2014 (282)
November 2014 (524)
October 2014 (543)
September 2014 (509)
August 2014 (462)
July 2014 (447)
June 2014 (405)
May 2014 (500)
April 2014 (560)
March 2014 (540)
February 2014 (502)
January 2014 (671)
December 2013 (241)

Support B.O.L.E.

Thank you for supporting the BOLE

Your support to have the B.O.L.E. (incl.all articles) open and free for everyone is much appreciated.

Products for your Wellness

Important: For all products chose at the top of the page the  language (English or German) and currency!

 click HERE to reach all products

TATWellness deliver worldwide.

In Your Service



This website is powered by Spruz

Live Support