Britain Votes On Allowing World’s First 3-Parent IVF Babies

LONDON Tue Feb 3, 2015 8:55am EST

Feb 3 (Reuters) – Britain on Tuesday could become the first country to allow a “three-parent” IVF technique which doctors say will prevent some inherited incurable diseases but which critics see as a step towards creating designer babies.

The treatment is known as “three-parent” in vitro fertilisation (IVF) because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.

It is designed to help families with mitochondrial diseases, incurable conditions passed down the maternal line that affect around one in 6,500 children worldwide.

Parliament will vote on the technique, called mitochondrial donation, later on Tuesday. It would be a medical world first for Britain but is fiercely disputed by some religious groups and other critics.

The process involves intervening in the fertilisation process to remove mitochondria, which act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and which, if faulty, can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy.

Mitochondrial DNA is separate from DNA found in the cell nucleus and does not affect human characteristics such as hair or eye colour, appearance or personality traits.


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