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Ethics of modifying the mitochondrial genome

A L Bredenoord, W Dondorp, Guido Pennings UGent and G de Wert (2010) JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS. 37(2). p.97-100
abstract
Recent preclinical studies have shown the feasibility of specific variants of nuclear transfer to prevent mitochondrial DNA disorders. Nuclear transfer could be a valuable reproductive option for carriers of mitochondrial mutations. A clinical application of nuclear transfer, however, would entail germ-line modification, more specifically a germ-line modification of the mitochondrial genome. One of the most prominent objections against germ-line modification is the fear that it would become possible to alter 'essential characteristics' of a future person, thereby possibly violating the child's right to an open future. As only the nuclear DNA would contain the ingredients for individual characteristics, modification of the mtDNA is often considered less controversial than modification of the nuclear DNA. This paper discusses the tenability of this dichotomy. After having clarified the concept of germ-line modification, it argues that modification of the mtDNA is not substantively different from modification of the nuclear DNA in terms of its effects on the identity of the future person. Subsequently the paper assesses how this conclusion affects the moral evaluation of nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders. It concludes that the moral acceptability of germ-line modification does not depend on whether it alters the identity of the future child-all germ-line modifications do-but on whether it safeguards the child's right to an open future. If nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders becomes safe and effective, then dismissing it because it involves germ-line modification is unjustified.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
GERM-LINE-THERAPY, OVUM-NUCLEAR-TRANSPLANTATION, DNA DISORDERS, DISEASE, MICE, TRANSMISSION, ENHANCEMENT, PROTOCOL, MTDNA
journal title
JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS
J. Med. Ethics
volume
37
issue
2
pages
97 - 100
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000286456100008
JCR category
ETHICS
JCR impact factor
1.391 (2010)
JCR rank
6/38 (2010)
JCR quartile
1 (2010)
ISSN
0306-6800
DOI
10.1136/jme.2010.037481
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1229019
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1229019
date created
2011-05-22 19:50:37
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:42:50
@article{1229019,
  abstract     = {Recent preclinical studies have shown the feasibility of specific variants of nuclear transfer to prevent mitochondrial DNA disorders. Nuclear transfer could be a valuable reproductive option for carriers of mitochondrial mutations. A clinical application of nuclear transfer, however, would entail germ-line modification, more specifically a germ-line modification of the mitochondrial genome. One of the most prominent objections against germ-line modification is the fear that it would become possible to alter 'essential characteristics' of a future person, thereby possibly violating the child's right to an open future. As only the nuclear DNA would contain the ingredients for individual characteristics, modification of the mtDNA is often considered less controversial than modification of the nuclear DNA. This paper discusses the tenability of this dichotomy. After having clarified the concept of germ-line modification, it argues that modification of the mtDNA is not substantively different from modification of the nuclear DNA in terms of its effects on the identity of the future person. Subsequently the paper assesses how this conclusion affects the moral evaluation of nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders. It concludes that the moral acceptability of germ-line modification does not depend on whether it alters the identity of the future child-all germ-line modifications do-but on whether it safeguards the child's right to an open future. If nuclear transfer to prevent mtDNA disorders becomes safe and effective, then dismissing it because it involves germ-line modification is unjustified.},
  author       = {Bredenoord, A L and Dondorp, W and Pennings, Guido and de Wert, G},
  issn         = {0306-6800},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS},
  keyword      = {GERM-LINE-THERAPY,OVUM-NUCLEAR-TRANSPLANTATION,DNA DISORDERS,DISEASE,MICE,TRANSMISSION,ENHANCEMENT,PROTOCOL,MTDNA},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {97--100},
  title        = {Ethics of modifying the mitochondrial genome},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jme.2010.037481},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {2010},
}

Chicago
Bredenoord, A L, W Dondorp, Guido Pennings, and G de Wert. 2010. “Ethics of Modifying the Mitochondrial Genome.” Journal of Medical Ethics 37 (2): 97–100.
APA
Bredenoord, A L, Dondorp, W., Pennings, G., & de Wert, G. (2010). Ethics of modifying the mitochondrial genome. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS, 37(2), 97–100.
Vancouver
1.
Bredenoord AL, Dondorp W, Pennings G, de Wert G. Ethics of modifying the mitochondrial genome. JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS. 2010;37(2):97–100.
MLA
Bredenoord, A L, W Dondorp, Guido Pennings, et al. “Ethics of Modifying the Mitochondrial Genome.” JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS 37.2 (2010): 97–100. Print.