Stealth DNA-based carbon nanotubes tunnel into cells to deliver targeted drugs

A team led by the Lawrence Livermore scientists has created a new way to selectively deliver drugs to a specific area in the body using carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

(KurzweilAI reported on October 17 a similar attempt to sneak drugs into cells using a DNA-based drug-delivery system: nanoscale “cocoons” made of DNA target cancer cells, tricking the cells into absorbing the cocoon, which then unleashes anticancer drugs.)

“Many good and efficient drugs that treat diseases of one organ are quite toxic to another,” said Aleksandr Noy, an LLNL biophysicist who led the study and is the senior author on the paper appearing in the Oct. 30 issue of the journal Nature. “This is why delivery to a particular part of the body and only releasing it there is much better.”

The DNA-based carbon nanotubes, dubbed “porins,” tunnel through cell membranes. They simulate ion channels, which are used by cells to transport vital chemicals: the short CNTs  form tiny pores that transport water, protons, small ions, and DNA.

Porins have significant implications for future health care and bioengineering applications, according to the researchers. In addition to delivering drugs to the body, they could serve as a foundation of novel biosensors and DNA sequencing applications, and be used as components of synthetic cells.*

“We found that these nanopores are a promising biomimetic platform for developing cell interfaces, studying transport in biological channels, and creating biosensors,” Noy said. “We are thinking about CNT porins as a first truly versatile synthetic nanopore that can create a range of applications in biology and materials science.”

The team included colleagues at the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Merced and Berkeley campuses, and University of Basque Country in Spain.

* The research showed that CNT porins display many characteristic behaviors of natural ion channels: they spontaneously insert into the membranes, switch between metastable conductance states, and display characteristic macromolecule-induced blockades. The team also found that, as in the biological channels, local channel and membrane charges could control the ionic conductance and ion selectivity of the CNT porins.

Abstract of Stochastic transport through carbon nanotubes in lipid bilayers and live cell membranes

There is much interest in developing synthetic analogues of biological membrane channels1 with high efficiency and exquisite selectivity for transporting ions and molecules. Bottom-up2 and top-down3 methods can produce nanopores of a size comparable to that of endogenous protein channels, but replicating their affinity and transport properties remains challenging. In principle, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) should be an ideal membrane channel platform: they exhibit excellent transport properties45678 and their narrow hydrophobic inner pores mimic structural motifs typical of biological channels1. Moreover, simulations predict that CNTs with a length comparable to the thickness of a lipid bilayer membrane can self-insert into the membrane910. Functionalized CNTs have indeed been found to penetrate lipid membranes and cell walls1112, and short tubes have been forced into membranes to create sensors13, yet membrane transport applications of short CNTs remain underexplored. Here we show that short CNTs spontaneously insert into lipid bilayers and live cell membranes to form channels that exhibit a unitary conductance of 70–100 picosiemens under physiological conditions. Despite their structural simplicity, these ‘CNT porins’ transport water, protons, small ions and DNA, stochastically switch between metastable conductance substates, and display characteristic macromolecule-induced ionic current blockades. We also show that local channel and membrane charges can control the conductance and ion selectivity of the CNT porins, thereby establishing these nanopores as a promising biomimetic platform for developing cell interfaces, studying transport in biological channels, and creating stochastic sensors.

Oldest DNA Ever Found Sheds Light on Humans’ Global Trek


Scientists claim to have unraveled the oldest DNA ever retrieved from a Homo sapiens bone, a feat that sheds light on modern humans’ colonization of the planet.

A femur found by chance on the banks of a west Siberian river in 2008 is that of a man who died around 45,000 years ago, they said.

Teased out of collagen in the ancient bone, the genome contains traces from Neanderthals — a cousin species who lived in Eurasia alongside H. sapiens before mysteriously disappearing.

Previous research has found that Neanderthals and H. sapiens interbred, leaving a tiny Neanderthal imprint of just about two percent in humans today, except for Africans.

The discovery has a bearing on the so-called “Out of Africa” scenario: the theory that H. sapiens evolved in East Africa around 200,000 years ago and then ventured out of the continent.

Dating when Neanderthals and H. sapiens interbred would also indicate when H. sapiens embarked on a key phase of this trek — the push out of Eurasia and into South and later Southeast Asia.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, was headed by Svante Paabo, a renowned geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who has pioneered research into Neanderthals.

– Neanderthal interbreeding –

The bone found at the Irtyush River, near the settlement of Ust’-Ishim, carries slightly more Neanderthal DNA than non-Africans today, the team found.

But it takes the form of relatively long strips, whereas Neanderthal DNA in our genome today has been cut up and dispersed in tiny sections as a result of generations of reproduction.

These differences provide a clue for a “molecular calendar”, or dating DNA according to mutations over thousands of years.

Using this method, Paabo’s team estimate interbreeding between Neanderthals and H. sapiens occurred 7,000 to 13,000 years before the Siberian individual lived — thus no more than 60,000 years ago.

This provides a rough date for estimating when H. sapiens headed into South Asia, Chris Stringer, a professor at Britain’s Natural History Museum, said in a comment on the study.

If today’s Australasians have Neanderthal DNA, it is because their forebears crossed through Neanderthal territory and mingled with the locals.

“The ancestors of Australasians, with their similar input of Neanderthal DNA to Eurasians, must have been part of a late, rather than early, dispersal through Neanderthal territory,” Stringer said in a press release.

“While it is still possible that modern humans did traverse southern Asia before 60,000 years ago, those groups could not have made a significant contribution to the surviving modern populations outside of Africa, which contain evidence of interbreeding with Neanderthals.”

Anthropologists suggest a northern branch of Eurasians crossed to modern-day Alaska more than 15,000 years ago via an “ice bridge” that connected islands in the Bering Strait, thus enabling H. sapiens to colonise the Americas.

Geneticists are Spell-Bound By Discovery of DNA That Confirms Fallen Angels Mated With Humans!


The World Genographic Project has been testing haplogroups (a group which relates to our deep ancestry) and has recently discovered that during the time of Noah’s flood a small group of extremely unusual DNA was introduced into the population. Geneticists have named it, Haplogroup I1.


I believe this could be the DNA proof that fallen angels had sex with humans spoken of in the book of Genesis 6:4, The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown..”

The haplogroup I1 gene has unique characteristics unlike any other gene, and geneticists are baffled by it.


According to some of the anomalies found in human hybrids with this strain of alien DNA include: toleration of extreme climates, exceptional strength and height, atheists mentality with no belief in God, intelligent, 100% literacy rate, great memory, speaks many languages, and limited sun exposure.  This is a sign that this is likely Nephilim in nature, because they are known to hate God and have a giant stature in ancient times.


But this gene anomaly isn’t the only DNA proof that exists! In the desert peninsula of Paracas, located within the Pisco Province in the Ica Region on the south coast of Peru; Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, discovered an enormous graveyard that housed tombs packed full of beings with the elongated skulls. Today these skulls are known as the Parcas Skulls. Not only do they date back during the time of the flood on Noah, but they have also been found with “alien DNA”…..


According to the news article in Ancient Origins:


“It is well-known that most cases of skull elongation are the result of cranial deformation, head flattening, or head binding, in which the skull is intentionally deformed by applying force over a long period of time. It is usually achieved by binding the head between two pieces of wood, or binding in cloth. However, while cranial deformation changes the shape of the skull, it does not alter its volume, weight, or other features that are characteristic of a regular human skull.


However, they say that these ‘Paracas Skulls’ are different!  The cranial volume is up to 25 percent larger and 60 percent heavier than ordinary human skulls. This confirms they could not have possibly been deliberately disfigured through head binding or flattening. Not to mention, these skulls also accommodate one parietal plate instead of two.”


With the two of these DNA findings put together we have the evidence we need for the Nephilim spoken of in the Bible. Both of these findings reveal unique DNA unlike any human DNA, and the only answer is that they must be what the bible refers to as the Nephilim race.







cholera bacteria from Haiti changed its DNA in order to fight phages

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages.

In a new study, researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners In Health, and Haiti’s National Public Health Laboratory, reported that phages can force cholera bacteria to give up their virulence in order to survive.

Phages are viruses that infect bacteria. They first determined that cholera bacteria from Haiti changed its DNA in order to fight phages, reports Tufts University.

The study published in eLife found that cholera’s mutational escape from phage predation occurs during human infection.

The researchers analyzed phage resistance properties and DNA sequences of cholera bacteria taken from phage-positive stool samples from patients with cholera in Haiti and Bangladesh, two countries where cholera outbreaks are common at present.

The researchers compared the bacteria from Haiti to bacteria from Bangladesh, all collected over many years to best determine if the changes were happening on multiple occasions in both countries or only in isolated groups or cases.

The team discovered that across both time and geography, the cholera bacteria mutated during human infection in order to trade their virulence—ability to persist and make a human sick—for the ability to defend against the phages.

Alternatively, in some patients, the cholera bacteria mutated in a more conservative manner to retain virulence, yet sacrificed the ability to grow optimally in the environment. In either scenario, the cholera bacteria appear to have traded something important in order to survive the onslaught from phages.

“This is the first time we have seen cholera bacteria defend themselves from phages while infecting humans. This suggests that these phages are actively working in our favor, first by killing cholera bacteria within the patient, and, second, by genetically weakening the bacteria that are shed by the infected patient such that they are less fit to survive in the environment or less able to cause infection in other people,” said senior author Andrew Camilli of Tufts University School of Medicine.

“Seeing this rapid evolutionary change in the cholera bacteria occurring during human infection suggests that the phages are posing a very strong threat. And to observe this in two different continents suggests that this is not a one-time find, but that it may be happening consistently during cholera outbreaks,” said Kimberley Seed, lead author of the study.

The World Health Organization reports that there are an estimated three to five million cases of cholera and 100,000 to 120,000 deaths due to cholera each year.

“This important finding suggests that we may be able to leverage the strength of phages for treating people with cholera or perhaps preventing cholera in people who may have been recently exposed as an alternative to antibiotics,” said Camilli.

Triple helix DNA (3 parents)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Three-parent babies are human offspring with three genetic parents, created through a specialized form of In vitro fertilisation in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNAcomes from a third party.[1][2][3] The procedure is intended to prevent mitochondrial diseases including muscular dystrophy and some heart and liver conditions.[4] It is the subject of considerable controversy in the field of bioethics.

Alana Saarinen at a piano

Alana Saarinen loves playing golf and the piano, listening to music and hanging out with friends. In those respects, she’s like many teenagers around the world. Except she’s not, because every cell in Alana’s body isn’t like mine and yours – Alana is one of a few people in the world who have DNA from three people.

“A lot of people say I have facial features from my mum, my eyes look like my dad… I have some traits from them and my personality is the same too,” says Alana.

“I also have DNA from a third lady. But I wouldn’t consider her a third parent, I just have some of her mitochondria.”

Mitochondria are often called the cell’s factories. They are the bits that create the energy all of our cells need to work, and keep the body functioning. But they also contain a little bit of DNA.

Alana Saarinen is one of only 30 to 50 people in the world who have some mitochondria, and therefore a bit of DNA, from a third person. She was conceived through a pioneering infertility treatment in the USA which was later banned.

But soon there could be more people like Alana, with three genetic parents, because the UK is looking to legalise a new, similar technique which would use a donor’s mitochondria to try to eliminate debilitating genetic diseases. It is called mitochondrial replacement and if Parliament votes to let this happen, the UK would become the only country in the world to allow children with three people’s DNA to be born.

Diagram showing structure of a cell

The structure of a cell

Nucleus: Where the majority of our DNA is held – this determines how we look and our personality

Mitochondria: Often described as the cell’s factories, these create the energy to make the cell function

Cytoplasm: The jelly like substance that contains the nucleus and mitochondria


Alana was born through an infertility treatment called cytoplasmic transfer.

Her mum, Sharon Saarinen, had been trying to have a baby for 10 years through numerous IVF procedures.

“I felt worthless. I felt guilty that I couldn’t give my husband a child. When you want a biological child but you can’t have one, you’re distraught. You can’t sleep, it’s 24-7, constantly on your mind,” she says.

Cytoplasmic transfer was pioneered in the late 1990s by a clinical embryologist Dr Jacques Cohen and his team at the St Barnabus Institute in New Jersey, US.

“We felt that there was a chance that there was some element, some structure in the cytoplasm that didn’t function optimally. One of the major candidates that could have been involved here are structures called mitochondria,” he says.

Cohen transferred a bit of a donor woman’s cytoplasm, containing mitochondria, to Sharon Saarinen’s egg. It was then fertilised with her husband’s sperm. As a little bit of mitochondria was transferred, some DNA from the donor was in the embryo.

Ear and hands of a male foetus aged 20 weeks

Seventeen babies were born at Cohen’s clinic, as a result of cytoplasmic transfer, who could have had DNA from three people.

But there was concern about some of the babies.

“There was one early miscarriage, considering there were twelve pregnancies that is an expected number,” says Cohen.

He and his team believed that miscarriage occurred because the foetus was missing an X chromosome.

“Then there was another twin pregnancy, where one [of the twins] was considered entirely normal and the other had a missing X chromosome.

Find out more

Three adults and child

Listen to Mum and Dad… and Mum? on BBC Radio 4 at 21:00 BST or on the World Service at 18:30 on Monday 1 September, or watch the film on BBC Newsnight at 22:30 on the same date

“So that’s two out of the small group of foetuses that was obtained from this procedure. This did worry us and we reported that in the literature and in our ethical and review board that oversees these procedures,” he says.

At the time of birth, the other babies were all fine. A year or two later, another of the children was found to have “early signs of pervasive early developmental disorder which is a range of cognitive diseases which also includes autism.” Cohen told me.

He says it’s difficult to know if the abnormalities happened by chance or because of the procedure.

Other clinics copied the technique and Cohen estimates that around 30 to 50 children worldwide were born who could have DNA from three people as a result.

But in 2002 the American regulator, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) asked clinics to stop doing cytoplasmic transfer due to safety and ethical concerns. All of them did.

“There was a reaction from scientists, ethicists, the public at large, I think most of it was supportive, some of it was critical – I think this is normal, every time an experiment is done in medicine there is a reaction – what are the risks here?” says Cohen.

At the time, some were concerned because they felt this was germ line genetic modification. What “germ line” means is that a child like Alana would pass her unusual genetic code down to her children. And their children, would pass it to their children and so on.

Because we inherit our mitochondria only from our mothers, only female children would pass their unusual genetic code on. Crossing the germ line as it is known has never been done before so very little is known about what the outcome could be.

Alana Saarinen and her mother

Due to a lack of funding, Cohen says, it hasn’t been possible to find out about how any of the children like Alana who were born from cytoplasmic transfer are doing. But the St Barnabus Institute is now starting a follow up study to check their progress.

Sharon Saarinen says her daughter Alana is a healthy, typical teenager

“I couldn’t ask for a better child. She is an intelligent, beautiful girl inside and out, she loves math and science … she does really well in school. She helps me around the house… when she’s not texting!”

“She has always been healthy. Never anything more than a basic cold, or a flu every now and then. No health problems at all.”

The health of the children, like Alana, born from cytoplasmic transfer is under scrutiny now because of the UK’s decision to consider legalising mitochondrial replacement, where the mitochondria of a donor woman will be used to create a child.

It would not be available for people with fertility problems but for those who carry diseases of the mitochondria and would otherwise pass down these genetic abnormalities to their children.

Exactly how it is done still needs to be determined as there are two ways of doing the procedure, depending on when the eggs are fertilised.

Egg repair graphic
  • Eggs from a mother with unhealthy mitochondria and a donor with healthy mitochondria are collected
  • The nucleus, containing the majority of the genetic material, is removed from both eggs. The donor nucleus is destroyed
  • The mother’s nucleus is inserted into the donor egg – it now has healthy mitochondria. The egg is then fertilised by the father’s sperm
Embryo repair graphic
  • Both the mother’s and donor’s eggs are fertilised with the father’s sperm to create two embryos
  • The pronuclei, the nuclei during the process of fertilisation, contain the majority of the genetic material. They are removed from both embryos. The donor’s is destroyed
  • A healthy embryo is created by putting the parents’ pronuclei into the donor embryo

“Mitochondrial diseases tend to involve tissues or organs which are heavily dependent on energy,” says Prof Doug Turnbull from The University of Newcastle. He has treated people with mitochondrial disease for decades and is one of those who has developed these new techniques to try to cure these debilitating diseases.

“The conditions can therefore involve the heart, the brain or sometimes the skeletal muscle,” he says.

“People can have very bad heart problems which can cause the heart to fail eventually, they can be very weak and require respirators or be in a wheelchair. With the brain, they can get epilepsy, strokes and eventually severe dementia.”

Turnbull estimates that around 1 in 3000-5000 people in the UK have a mitochondrial disease. “We can treat the symptoms. We can improve the quality and length of peoples’ lives but we can’t cure them.”

The mitochondria carry some DNA, around 13 “important genes” says Turnbull.

That compares to the “23,000 important genes” in the nucleus where most of our DNA is held. This is the DNA that determines our traits and personality.

“We’re not trying to create some characteristic that makes this person a stronger person or [someone who] will have blonde hair. We’re trying to prevent disease and I think that is the only justification for doing this,” he says.

Sharon Bernardi, from Sunderland in the North of England, is someone who mitochondrial replacement could have helped.

Sharon Bernardi with picture of son

Bernardi has lost seven children to mitochondrial disease.

“I have babies in three different cemeteries,” she told us in her sitting room, surrounded by photographs of all her children.

“That is not the way you plan your life when you’re trying to have a family. I have lovely photos and lovely memories but obviously that’s all I have got now.”

“Start Quote

I have to slip back into reality and think don’t be silly, Edward’s not there. He’s not in his room”

Sharon Bernardi

The doctors didn’t know why Bernardi’s babies kept passing away only hours after they were born. So that’s why she kept trying, hoping she would have a healthy child.

With her fourth child, Edward, at first everything seemed different. He was healthy until he was about four and a half. But it was then that he was diagnosed with Leigh’s disease, a type of mitochondrial disease, and his health deteriorated throughout the years.

“From the age of 20 Edward [found] getting around more difficult. He started to get new symptoms – spasms. He’d start screaming… four, five, six hours at a time. His muscles used to tense up, his hands, his face. It was like dystonic spasms – a really bad spasm. [For] eight hours he’d be in pain, screaming. His face would twist up and his hands would get really stiff. It was hard to see.”

Edward Bernardi passed away three years ago, when he was 21.

“My life was totally for Edward. Even now sometimes if I have gone to sleep, I still wake up, and think, ‘It’s very quiet.’ I have to slip back into reality and think, ‘Don’t be silly, Edward’s not there. He’s not in his room’.”

“Without a heartbeat I would have gone for this [mitochondrial replacement]. I hope this is a new option. I hope people take it seriously and it’s approved.

“I don’t want my son to have just died for nothing. I want him to have made a difference.”

“His life was robbed at 21. We’re trying to stop this. People have to understand this is a life disease. We’re trying not to pass it on to children and make it better for future families.”

Sharon Bernardi with Edward

But some people believe this technique could set us on a slippery slope towards genetically modified humans.

“These regulations would authorise the crossing of a rubicon for the first time. It would authorise germ line therapy… to alter the genes of an individual. This is something defined by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as effectively constituting eugenics,” says British MP Fiona Bruce who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group.

“We will have approved a technique and what that technique could be used for in the future who knows. We’re opening a Pandora’s box.”

The regulator in the UK, the HFEA or Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has held three independent reviews to scrutinise the safety of this technique. The conclusions were that mitochondrial replacement is “not unsafe”.

“Start Quote

There have been few episodes I’m aware of in the history of assisted reproduction that have had to be stopped because of hazard”

Professor BraudeKings College London

That means “it would be reasonable, with some additional experiments, to take it into clinical practice if all circumstances are fulfilled” says Peter Braude, emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Kings College London. He sat on all three HFEA scientific reviews.

“In any move from science to clinical practice there is a leap of faith – it has to be done,” he says.

He adds that many of the concerns being raised now about this are the same as the ones cited in the early days of IVF. The UK has for decades been a leader in assisted reproduction science and is where the world’s first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978.

“The headlines then were ‘playing God’ and ‘genetically modified humans’,” says Braude.

“There have been few episodes I’m aware of in the history of assisted reproduction that have had to be stopped because of hazard. It’s all gone pretty swimmingly as far as I’m aware.”

Braude says that mitochondrial replacement has gone through much more scrutiny than previous, now well established, assisted reproduction techniques did, such as IVF.

“Whereas the original techniques were used with only [experiments from] mice, rabbits, lab animals… the big difference here is we also have issue of human embryos and this work has been tested in macaque monkeys in primates. All those were very useful, reassuring… hence why we came to the conclusion that this is not unsafe.”

The experiments done on macaque monkeys were done in Oregon, US and the monkeys are now five years old and seem to be healthy.

Braude also points out that having a third person’s DNA in your system is “nothing particularly new”.

“Think about bone marrow transplants, let’s say unfortunately you have leukaemia and you have to have your bone marrow radiated for the cancer to be killed and then it is replaced by bone marrow from someone else – say me. Effectively from that time onwards, you will have circulating in your body DNA from me. You won’t be related to me, you may be grateful to me, but you will have DNA from a third person circulating in your body.”

What is different, say critics, about mitochondrial replacement, is that DNA from the donor will be passed down future generations.

Egg selection during IVF

Dr Ted Morrow, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Sussex, and colleagues have carried out mitochondrial replacement experiments on other animals. He raised safety concerns about mitochondrial replacement to the scientific reviews.

“For mice, there were changes in cognitive ability… to learn and do things using their brain. In fruit flies and seed beetles there were changes in male fertility, changes in ageing, a range of different traits were effected in various experiments,” he says.

The HFEA’s scientific reviews dismissed Morrow’s findings as not relevant to humans because they were done on inbred animals.

Morrow stands by his research and says the scientific panels should not have dismissed his findings so quickly.

“Start Quote

I’m a scientist but I’m not a pro-lifer. I think this is a genuine safety concern – that’s it”

Ted MorrowUniversity of Sussex

It is Morrow’s evidence that critics such as Fiona Bruce cite when saying this technique is not safe enough.

She has called a debate in the House of Commons today to discuss mitochondrial replacement. She does not believe there has been enough debate about what the UK is proposing to do. “The technique itself could allow the child to inherit untried untested medical complications,” she says.

Morrow says that all the coverage of his research has been “a rather odd experience”.

“In the press it’s sometimes portrayed that the scientists think this, and the pro-life group this. I’m a scientist but I’m not a pro-lifer. I think this is a genuine safety concern – that’s it.”

Alana and Sharon Saarinen have been watching the debate in the UK with interest.

“I wish I could meet her, the donor, to tell her I am so grateful for what she did for us. How can you thank someone for giving you a life? That’s impossible,” says Sharon.

Alana agrees with her mum. “I think it would be nice to thank her. But I wouldn’t want to have a relationship or connection with her. The DNA I have of her is just so small.”

“I know she might have another person’s mitochondria, [but] look what a great person she turned out to be, and healthy. Just because she’ll pass it on to her children it won’t bother me in the least. I know it was the right thing to do. I have the living proof every day to see how great it turned out.”

Alana Saarinen

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The process, still in the research stage, is currently prohibited in the United States, but is being actively researched in China.[7][8] Some research is also taking place in the United States and in the United Kingdom[4] where the government said they were planning to make the procedure legal in 2014.[9]


The process of producing a three-parent baby, Three Parent In Vitro Fertilization (TPIVF), involves taking the nucleus of one egg and inserting it into the cytoplasm of another egg which has had its nucleus removed, but still contains mitochondrial DNA, and then fertilizing the hybrid egg with a sperm. The purpose of the procedure is to remove a nucleus from a cell with defective mitochondria and place it in a donor cell with healthy mitochondria, which after fertilization will contain a nucleus with genetic material from only the two parents.[7] There is more than one method of TPIVF. The two main methods are pronuclear transfer and spindle transfer; Spindle transfer is a process where the spindle of chromosomes taken from the mother’s egg are placed into the donor egg and pronuclear transfer is the process described at the beginning of this paragraph.[10]

Although the donor egg is said to contribute only 0.1% to the genetic make up of the child, when examining the genetic material of these children there are still three identifiable genetic parents.[11] This is due to the fact that the donor egg came from a non-maternal relative. For the child to have only two identifiable genetic parents and still have undergone this procedure, the donor egg must have come from a maternal relative because maternal mtDNA is almost identical. Maternal relative egg donation is not commonly used, because if the female egg has a mitochondrial disease then it is highly likely that the maternal relatives inherited the disease as well.


Despite the promising outcomes of the two techniques, pronuclear transfer and spindle transfer, mitochondrial gene replacement raises ethical and social concerns. According to Darnovsky, an executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, the technique procedures would involve modification of the germline, and modifications would pass on to subsequent generations.[12] Using Human embryos in vitro research are controversial because embryos are created specifically for research and the financial compensation of egg donors.[13] Implications for identity is another ethical concern that has psychological and emotional impacts on a child’s life regarding of a person’s sense of identity. It debates whether the genetic make-up of children born as a result of mitochondrial replacement affect their emotional well-being when they are aware that they are different from other healthy children conceived from two parents.[14] Safety and efficacy of mitochondrial DNA replacement are still unanswered.[15]

New York University researcher James Grifo, a critic of the American ban, has argued that society “would never have made the advances in treating infertility that we have if these bans had been imposed 10 years” earlier.[7]

Opponents argue that scientists are “playing God” and that children with three genetic parents may suffer both psychological and physical damage.[16] These critics includeAlison Cook of Great Britain‘s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, who argues that bans were “written to protect the welfare of the embryo and the child.”[7]