The FDA has condemned the practice. In a strongly-worded letter, Mary Malarkey, Director of the Office of Compliance and Biologics Quality called out New York-based physician, Dr. John Zhang for his request to run clinical trials of the experimental technique. The FDA has conclusively stated that any and all forms of procedures that seek to modify a human egg cell is illegal and unethical. There are several reasons for their conclusion, but one of the main factors listed is that scientists are not even sure what impact the MRT procedure would have on the babies it produces.
MRT supposedly prevents the occurrence of genetic disorders that are passed through mitochondrial DNA by removing one mother’s mitochondria and using another mother’s “healthy” DNA instead. Dr. Zhang allegedly pioneered the concept here, successfully engineering his “first live birth” using MRT. The procedure was tested on a woman who carried a gene for a rare neurological disorder. The woman also claimed to have suffered from four miscarriages and the two children she had delivered died very early. Dr. Zhang created a three-DNA human embryo for the woman in the U.S. but had her brought to Mexico to implant the cell.
According to our laws, creating a genetically modified human embryo in a lab is allowed in the U.S. (as long as federal funds are not used). However, implanting them in a womb is prohibited.
Dr. Zhang claims that the mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy in April 2016.
The FDA has stated that the Trump administration takes a very hard stance against the development of any technology that would alter babies, even if doing so would prevent severe disease. The group has reprimanded Dr. Zhang for promoting a technique that has not been approved or acknowledged for its safety or efficacy.
But President Trump may be fighting a hard battle. In the U.K., three-parent IVF techniques are already being tested and used in the hopes of eliminating genetic diseases. Britain’s Church of England and Catholic bishops have criticized government officials for accepting and legalizing these procedures.
Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster told Life Site News, “this is about a human life with potential, arising from a father and a mother, being used as a disposable material…[the human embryo] should be respected and protected from the moment of conception.”
Other bishops share the same opinion, noting that MRT is not a treatment in itself, but a revolting attempt by scientists to play God. Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland said that MRT “distorts the natural process of fertility.”
The apoplectic response from the clergy aside, scientists in the U.K. are continuing their endeavor. Unfortunately, this places our scientists in a pickle as they fear that advances by their British counterparts would cause them to be left behind.
“Other countries are ahead of us on this,” said Naomi Cahn, a professor at the George Washington University Law School. “We need to be more sensitive to what’s going on internationally with this technology.”
Read more stories like this on FutureScienceNews.com.