Health

Britain Votes To Allow Three-Parent Babies

| by Michael Allen

British lawmakers voted 280-48 this week to allow a three-person in vitro fertilization (IVF) to prevent incurable mitochondrial diseases in babies.

The law will allow newborns to have biological material contributions from three people (mother, father and female donor).

Mitochondrial diseases come from a deformity in the DNA. Mitochondria is only passed to children via the mother, so a three-person IVF procedure would substitute part of the mother's damaged DNA with an anonymous female donor's DNA.

The baby will have 99.8 percent of its genes from the mother and father, and 0.2 percent from the female donor.

“Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are the people best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option for them," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, noted The Guardian.

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"This result will be life-changing for many women living with mitochondrial disease, giving them the precious chance to bear unaffected children, removing the condition from a family line and reducing the numbers faced with its devastating effects," added Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

The Telegraph reports that Catholic leaders oppose the new procedure, and one lawmaker said the babies could be born sterile. There have not been any clinical trials to test the procedure.

Sources: The Telegraph, The Guardian
Image Credit: Wally Wood