Babies with three parents are closer to becoming legal in the UK

The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) described the phenomenon of creating babies using genetic material from three people as “not unsafe”. The procedure, which is a modified form of IVF, has not yet been approved in the US or the UK, however it is becoming closer to reality.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child in the egg, so there is concern that women may be passing on DNA that could cause incurable, life altering diseases. The process is designed to allow women with faulty mitochondrial DNA to have a genetically related child without passing problems to the child. The procedure uses a donor egg with normal mitochondrial DNA and a nucleus taken from a prospective mother’s egg, either before or after fertilisation by the partner.

It is expected that between 100 – 200 families will request treatment every year in the UK. Analysis so far has revealed that the technique is safe enough to try in clinical trials, as long as several additional experiments are carried out first and children born as a result of the technique are monitored for an extensive period. The vote which could legalise this procedure is estimated to take place in the next 18-24 months.

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