Should babies be allowed to have three genetic parents?
That's a question that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering.
According to the Scientific American, Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his team at Oregon Health & Science University have created human embryos with three parents, but did not implant those embryos back in women to make babies.
The FDA is scheduled to hold a public hearing today and tomorrow about this reproductive technology, which is known as oocyte modification, also called "three-parent IVF."
Scientists claim oocyte modification could
prevent some inherited diseases from being passed down from parents.
Oocyte modification includes removing defective mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from a woman’s egg and replacing it with healthy mitochondrial DNA from another woman.
The egg would then be fertilized by the father’s sperm in a lab and then the embryo would be implanted into the first woman (mother).
"We want to replace these mutated genes, which by nature have become pathogenic to humans," Mitalipov told USA Today. "We're reversing them back to normal, so I don't understand why you would be opposing that."
The child would carry the genes of three people, which worries some ethicists about unintended consequences.
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“Life is full of slippery slopes and we need brakes,” said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society. “This is described as saving lives, but it is not aimed at people who are sick.”