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Hope and Concern

To some people, three-person IVF or mitochondrial replacement is hope for preventing mitochondrial diseases from being passed on to the next generation, while to others, it is the beginning of the development of designer babies, the New York Times Magazine says.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration regulates this technique, and recently held a hearing to consider allowing clinical trials of mitochondrial replacement.

Critics, Kim Tingley writes in the Times, argue that this amounts to genetically modifying people and that the consequences of doing so are uncertain.

At the same time, the approach has the potential to prevent serious mitochondrial diseases as well as the possibility to cure diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's. And somatic cell nuclear transfer doesn't, researchers say, allow for the designing of human embryos.

"It offers them a hope that maybe they can't be fixed but future generations can avoid this disease," Michio Hirano, a mitochondrial specialist at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, says of his patients, "and I think that means a lot to them."

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.