Three-Person IVF?

It appears the UK is set to become the first nation to allow the creation of babies from DNA of three individuals. Sounds absurd right? Well, there is a reason for the new procedure that could potentially begin in a couple of years. Mitochondrial disease, a disease that is passed on from mother to child is behind the controversial news in the UK. Experts say that a three-person IVF could eliminate the potentially fatal disease. Mitochondria are the tiny, biological “power stations” that give the body energy. They are passed from a mother, through the egg, to her child.

Defective mitochondria affect one in every 6,500 babies. This can leave them starved of energy, resulting in muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and death in the most extreme cases. Research suggests that using mitochondria from a donor egg can prevent the diseases. It is envisaged that up to 10 couples a year would benefit from the treatment. However, it would result in babies having DNA from two parents and a tiny amount from a third donor as the mitochondria themselves have their own DNA.

Those rallying against are more concerned behind the regulations of the procedure which are currently being considered with draft legislation expected in 2014. The fear of “designer babies” is what the regulations would be preventing. Also, the identity and privacy of the third donor is being considered as am important factor down the road. With so many legal cases currently taking place with anonymous sperm donors, potentially similar cases could arrise from this 3-person IVF scenario.

For the full BBC News report, click here.


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