Research to Save Lives: A Response to “Genetically Modified Babies” by Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society (Op-Ed, Feb. 25)
Every year, thousands of women give birth to children who will die as infants or young adults because of severe mitochondrial diseases. The procedure of mitochondrial transfer holds much promise of enabling these women to have healthy babies and removes the risk of disease in these children’s future offspring.
“Designing babies” for purely elective reasons is deeply problematic, but permitting research to proceed to see whether women can avoid these horrific deaths has many advantages that shouldn’t be ignored. Regulations can restrict use of this technology to carefully agreed upon devastating diseases, to avoid potential wider use.
The possibility of misuse should not deprive thousands of families from the potential benefits. We applaud the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to steward this journey forward, and we endorse efforts to continue research in this field responsibly.
Mark V. Sauer
New York, Feb. 26, 2014
A professor of psychiatry, is director of the masters bioethics program at Columbia University.
A professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is director of the assisted reproduction program at Columbia University.