Sometimes in life, one pays too much attention to individual trees, to the detriment of the forest.
Turns out that every cell in our body has a nucleus sitting in a cytoplasm. This cytoplasm, consists of millions of mitochondria, which are like power packs. These mitochondria, are responsible for conducting exemplary energy management in your body, cell by cell, by judicious combustion using oxygen and food.
Now each of these mitochondria knows what to do as per the instructions coded in what is called the Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA. This is of course, different, from the DNA in the cell nucleus, whereby you get your parental genetic tendencies and traits, when 23 chromosomes from the mother meet up with 23 from the father.
Sometimes, like in life, there are few bad mitochondria; their mtDNA has been messed up. When in any cell, more than 50% of the mitochondria are messed up or mutated, this gives rise to imperfections in the form of mitochondrial diseases in a person; as many as 40. Nerve cells in the brain and muscles require a great deal of energy, and thus appear to be particularly damaged when mitochondrial dysfunction occurs. Nerves, muscles, and the brain are the most affected, and the diseases are sometimes seen in childhood and sometimes later .
Muscle weakness or exercise intolerance, heart failure or rhythm disturbances, dementia, movement disorders, stroke-like episodes, deafness, blindness, droopy eyelids, limited mobility of the eyes, vomiting, and seizures, are some of the outcomes of mitochondrial disease. ( You can get these symptoms even otherwise, but one assumes the response to treatment would depend on whether the cause was mitochondrial, or not.
And while the nuclear DNA has chromosomes from the father and mother, the mitochondrial DNA stuff is inherited only from the mother.
And so scientists have been experimenting trying to figure out if a nucleus can be simply pulled out and made to sit and grow in a disease free perfect mitochondria elsewhere. And since the mitochondria depends 100% on the mother, this means a nucleus with one mother now gets to sit in the perfect mitochondria found from another mother.
British and Japanese scientists report creation of embryos, with two different mothers and a father. The motivation for arriving at this amazing state of affairs is an effort at trying to do away with mitochondrial diseases.
These embryos developed into what maybe called embryos devoid of the inherited genetic disease. No child has been born like this so far, for legal, and ethical reasons, but should it be, then it would have 2 mothers and one father.
I often wonder why someone doesn't do some research to figure out how faulty mitochondria can be repaired. It is unlikely that a 2-mother-1-father child will see the light of the day, due to legal compulsions. It certainly looks like scientists are able to go deeper and deeper into nano-level situations of the human body. Certain cells apparently have some coding in their DNA that says the cells should die systematically on its own, or programmed cell death.
Why can't research be done into finding this code and implanting it into the bad mitochondria cells, so they will spontaneously die, and not contribute towards mitochondrial disease ?
Its a bit like saying, that a child is learning bad habits staying some place, so let's remove the child from there, and take him to another place where the people environment is better. And this can go on ad infinitum, doing nothing to find out why the environment is bad, and what one can do about it. And how the child can grow in strength and confidence, learning to deal with it in a constructive way.
And our society today reflects this approach. Careless neglect creating pockets of disturbance in society. Nobody studies the root cause. Band-aid treatment aided by vote bank politics, to paper over the problems, with show-items like statues, special reservations, grand sounding schemes. Every problem society has several problem creators, and one paternal elected official, to paper over the faults, while filling their own deep pockets.
We in India know how to abuse technology. Ultrasonography , has been used to kill instead of diagnose. Taking the mother and checking her uterine contents for sex determination is now dangerous for the mother. The original societal environment, like the aforementioned mitochondria, continues to be bad, inimical for the mother-to-be, and we do nothing to change it.
Meanwhile neonatal research progresses by leaps and bounds, benefiting only those who were born in good, nurturing societal setups.
I don't see the likely hood of this 2-mother-1-father child ever becoming a reality, and it shouldn't. You cannot pluck things from a continuum, drop it in some other medium, and expect zero remnants of the old continuum to exist, in the new medium. We don't know how the drops of the old cytoplasm and perfect mitochondrial new cytoplasm will mix. And how this will show up in a resultant human , if, and when , it was ever to be allowed.
And so I wonder why research is even funded in this direction.
And as far as the n-mother-m-father child becoming a reality, there are so many children , born of one father and one mother, no one to call their own, looking for families , one father and one mother, to call their own, and tried and tested social systems in place, to make this happen.
Like I said, we pay so much attention to the individual tree, to the detriment of the forest.....