The Science Behind the “Three Parent Child” and a Brief History of American Genetic Manipulation

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According to CNN headlines, the first “three parent child” has entered the world. For the first time in decades, eugenics has once again made a milestone in the scientific scene.

The word eugenics is an amalgamation, literally meaning “good gene”, of the prefix “eu” has Greek origins meaning “good.” and the word “gene”. Though the nature of contemporary genetics still was not understood at the time, it was long suspected that alcoholism, as well as mental illness, and some acute deleterious sicknesses (such as hemophilia) were hereditary. Researchers and scholars from major academic institutions dreamed of advancing humanity on a genetic basis, yielding a stronger “genetic stock” of the American people on a holistic level. The reason behind most pro-eugenicists’ thoughts was that the terminal diseases could be prevented by stopping those with genetic from their basic right to procreate. Eugenics resulted in compulsory sterilization laws in more than half of the United States where approximately a little more than 60,000 victims totaled from these atrocities. Racism was alive and well, and eugenics was the basis for miscegenation laws, laws prohibiting the union between different ethnicities (mainly between blacks and whites). It was a common held belief in that era that there were tiers of ethnicities, where whites were viewed as apex humans. The Immigration Act of 1924 prohibited the entry of specific Europeans because eugenicists ignorantly feared that miscegenation would lead to a weaker human race. The breakthrough procedure is an example of positive eugenics and drastically contrasts from the American historical nature of eugenics.

The amazing procedure that gave way to the “Three Parent Child” is called nuclear spindle transfer, a landmark scientific method that gives way to genetic manipulation. The nuclear DNA of an egg that is selected to be fertilized is extracted and then placed inside a donor egg. This essentially leaves the mitochondrial DNA behind and the original egg is destroyed or discarded. The reason why the baby is called the “Three Parent Child” is because though the haploid gametes of sperm and egg undergo an addition to create the diploid child, but the mitochondrial DNA that gets expressed is the DNA specifically from the donor. We can eliminate mitochondrial disorders if the United States and other countries specifically decide to use this tech for at-risk offspring. All of the mitochondria that will be present in every cell of the child’s body will come from the donor egg. If there is an anomaly in the mitochondrial DNA in the zygote, that anomaly will carry on to every mitochondrion within the body, which is the cause for diseases like Leigh disease, or will affect many organ systems of the body, especially the musculature, general metabolic processes, affect neuron functioning, etc.

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Alex Babia

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