After the three parent embryo, “multiplex parenting”

Publié le : 14 March 2014

 Whereas the United States and Great Britain are considering the option of legalising the three parent IVF technique (Gènéthique press review on February 17th, 2014) and experts are pointing out the risks (Gènéthique press review on September 23rd, 2013 ans on February 24th, 2014), three authors1 have published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics promoting a new method known as "multiplex parenting". This involves "creating children with four or more genetic parents" according to the Bioedge website.

For the authors, it is one of the many consequences associated with the use of "gametes created in-vitro" via stem cells. In 2007, mice were produced from these gametes obtained with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). John Harris et al. believe that scientists will soon be able to do the same thing with humans. 

According to these, the practice of "multiplex parenting" would be ethical since the experiments carried out on mice have not highlighted any risks.          
This technique could be used in numerous cases: for men who cannot produce viable spermatozoa, for early menopausal women, for people who have no gonads or who are infertile because of cancer treatment or people sterilised involuntarily. Moreover, this technique could also apply to gay and lesbian couples who could have genetically-related children. Lastly, single people could reproduce without a partner or with no access to gamete donation.        
As far as the authors are concerned, it is "a radical extension to reproductive autonomy which has allowed more than two people to engage simultaneously in genetic parenting". 

(1) John Harris, University of Manchester, César Palacios-Gonzalez and Giuseppe Testa

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