Genetically engineered babies to be made using DNA from 4 parents

A team of scientists in the United Kingdom are investigating a way to create babies using DNAs of four parents amid fears of potential negative effects in the long run.

The process of transplanting DNA from one embryo to another is called Pro-Nuclear Transfer (PNT). In this process, a baby is created using the DNA of four parents since one embryo is the result of the DNA of two parents. According to The Christian Institute, the team of scientists at the Newcastle University are currently studying the process.

(Reuters/National Human Genome Research Institute)A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Reuters on May 15, 2012.

Humphrey Dobson, deputy director of The Christian Institute, is wary of the procedure since scientists cannot be expected to guarantee the absolute safety of the process, stressing that "problems may only arise in the generations to come."

"We should remember that what is being heralded here as 'treatment' is simply a ruthless way of screening out those deemed less worthy of life," said Dobson.

In February, the United Kingdom became the first country to legalize the three-person babies or mitochondrial DNA replacement. The procedure involves DNA of three parents wherein the third parent is the source for a healthy mitochondrion. According to Wired, there are about 4,000 babies in the United States born with a mitochondrial disease. The disease is inherited from a defect in a mother's mitochondria.

Safety, the issue of creating babies with three parents, and the dangers of genetic engineering were the top concerns raised by opponents of the transplants. The British parliamentarians voted a majority of 232 in favor of the procedure.

British Health Minister Lord Howe heralds the procedure as a source of hope for families and believes that the transplant is safe as attested by safety experts.

"It would be cruel and perverse in my opinion, to deny them that opportunity for any longer than absolutely necessary," said Lord Howe, as quoted by BBC.

"I don't believe, my Lords, in spite of what we've heard this evening, that this technology threatens the fabric of society in the slightest bit," added Lord Winston, a fertility doctor.

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