It is a long time since in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques first entered the news. Yet advances in IVF continue to raise new ethical issues, around the potential for using IVF to prevent medical conditions. Mitochondrial disease, for example, is a degenerative and sometimes fatal condition, for which only limited treatments exist, with no cure possible. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research in Newcastle have developed pioneering techniques offering the possibility of a future generation born without mitochondrial disease.
However, as mitochondria contain their own DNA, and therefore the DNA contained in the donated mitochondria will be passed down to subsequent generations, a change in law is required before these ‘germ-line’ therapies can be offered to patients. At this month’s Philosophy Cafe on 20 November 2012, Dr Rebecca Dimond (Cesagen, Cardiff University) will explore the implications of these techniques and IVF-based preventive medicine more widely for patients, parents and for society as a whole, questioning whether these technologies represent a slippery slope towards designer babies and human cloning.
As usual, the Cafe begins at 8.00pm at The Gate.