Britain Permits the World’s First “Three Parent” Embryos

Britain voted on Tuesday to 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 medical treatment is known as "three-parent" in vitro fertilization (IVF) because the babies would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor. Because of the modification of these embryos is so controversial, many religious and ethical groups are up in arms over this technique. On the other hand, the benefit outweighs the risks for so many others:

“The process involves intervening in the fertilization 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.

I wouldn’t stand here and defend the concept of designer babies — choosing the color of the eyes and all the rest of it. This is about purely dealing with those terrible, terrible illnesses," opposition Labor lawmaker Andrew Miller, chair of parliament’s science and technology committee, told the debate.”

Proposed new laws allowing the treatments to be carried out in Britain still have to be approved by the upper house, which commentators expect to endorse parliament’s support.


Keywords: IVF, IVF doctor, British Parliament, designer babies, inherited diseases, “three parent” IVF, “three parent” embryos, intended parents, DNA, genetically modified embryos, fertility, infertility