Early pronuclear transfer given the green light

This is one of those new stories which links to numerous school subjects, and reiterates the importance of concentrating and trying your best in everything you study and learn about.

image embryo

In GCSE Religious Studies we investigate medical ethics in our Unit 8 course and specifically about transplant surgery and fertility treatment. It is the latter which links to ‘early pronuclear transfer’. It might be our science knowledge that is going to assist us in understanding this one!

Early pronuclear transfer involves removing the parents’ key genetic material from an embryo within hours of fertilisation, leaving behind the woman’s faulty mitochondria.
The parental DNA, which contains all the key genes responsible for character and appearance, is then transferred into a donor woman’s embryo, which has its nucleus removed but contains healthy mitochondria.

three parents image

The BBC reports on this developing IVF technique which will help women who don’t want to pass on a genetic disorder to a healthy baby. It made the headlines because there will be 3 people providing DNA for the embryo and baby. What do you think religions will make of all this?

Human Organs Grown in Pigs

An incredible coincidence again, that our section 2 topic in Year 10 is about to be medical ethics and organ transplants. Freaky!

pig-organ-hero

This was some amazing news on Monday: that human organs are going to be grown inside pigs to be used later as organ transplants. Wow!

The BBC have a short video clip to explain how human stem cells have been inserted into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos, called chimeras. This research has been going on in the US to attempt to overcome the worldwide shortage of organs for donation.

The Guardian also reports on this story, explaining that from the outside they will look like normal pigs but one organ inside it will actually be human. There are heaps of ethical issues with this. For example what happens if the brain is human inside a pig’s body? Obviously from an RE perspective there are questions about meddling with nature and God’s creation, or whether if God gave us this intelligence and free will it is actually acceptable?

xeno2

New Head of Human Rights group

At 30 years old Martha Spurrier has just started a tough new job, as Head of Liberty, a UK human rights group she’s stepped straight into the battle over the Human Rights Act being thrown away by the current government.

The Guardian reports:

The Human Rights Act, passed in 1998, allows individuals to defend their rights in UK courts while also ensuring that public organisations such as the police, and local and national government treat all citizens equally and respectfully. So it is no surprise that Spurrier is horrified by the prospect of its abolition – particularly as details of what might replace the act are so vague.

“We’ve got to a pretty bad place where a government is even considering repealing the Human Rights Act,” she explains. “I don’t think the government would put in its manifesto that it would repeal the Equality Act, and I can’t see the difference between that and the Human Rights Act.”

human-rights-act-1998-4-638

Worst ever summer sea ice melt

It’s quite a tongue twister but the news that this summer is starting to look like the worse ever summer sea ice melt in the Arctic is worrying scientists and environmentalists. The extent (size) of the ice in the Arctic is a big indicator for scientists of global warming, so the fact the amount of ice this May was less than in May 2012, when it record lows, is concerning them.

arctic-sea-ice-melt-nrdc

 

Quickfire Genetic Engineering Videos

Need a quick peek at informative videos about genetic engineering? Here are some easy videos for Unit 8 Section 1.

Gene Editing

Horizon – Playing God This is just a commercial for the TV programme

Horizon – Are we still evolving? This is just a commercial for the TV programme

Nature Vs Nurture 5 minutes BBC documentary

GM Food Debate 

Should we make designer babies?

Sadiq Khan says he’ll extend the ultra low emission zone

The new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has promised to expand the ultra low emission zone to help tackle London’s air pollution problem. It is something he describes as London’s biggest environmental challenge. When he visited a primary school in Aldgate this week he said, “For me it can’t be right that this school on three occasions last year has to make the call whether to allow children to play in the playground breathing in this dangerous stuff or play indoors.”

Air pollution hangs in the air lowering

 

You can also follow London’s air pollution on a nowcast page, seeing whether pollution has reached high levels or not, which for people with asthma can affect whether they spend a lot of time outside or not.

 

A Breakthrough in Growing Embryos

Scientists are excited about their findings after leaving embryos to grow past the normal moment they’d be implanted into a womb. There is a legal limit on how long you can allow an embryo to develop outside the womb, 14 days, but even that might soon change as scientists argue it should be extended so they can discover more.

It used to be up to a week that scientists would study a fertilised egg before it was implanted into the womb, but with the extra days scientists have discovered many things about the early stage of development which often results in developmental defects and failure to implant. So all this extra information that they’ve been able to glean should help them reduce infertility in the future.

embryo -a new organism in the earliest stage of development. In humans this is defined as the developing organism from the fourth day after fertilization to the end of the eighth week. 

foetus – a prenatal human (before birth) which is between its embryonic state and its birth.

Remember that at 24 weeks of pregnancy in England a foetus can no longer be aborted. Meanwhile Catholics believe that from the moment of conception a new life has been created and Muslims think that even though abortion is wrong if the mother’s life is at risk then up to 120 days the mother’s life has more value than the foetus.