'Three-parent' babies to prevent deadly genetic diseases
The controversial IVF technique to conceive babies with DNA from three parents, which has been approved by UK lawmakers, aims to prevent deadly genetic diseases being passed from mother to child, scientists say.
London: The controversial IVF technique to conceive babies with DNA from three parents, which has been approved by UK lawmakers, aims to prevent deadly genetic diseases being passed from mother to child, scientists say.
Mitochondrial DNA transfer allows in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) clinics to replace an egg's defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor, to prevent children suffering debilitating conditions like muscular dystrophy.
The technique is controversial because it would result in babies having DNA from three people.
Advocates of the new procedure say around 2,500 women could benefit from mitochondrial donation in Britain, equating to around 150 births a year, the Telegraph reported.
The procedure, developed by British scientists, was passed yesterday in the House of Commons,?where 382 MPs were in favour and 128 against the technique.
Professor Doug Turnbull from the Newcastle University believes the procedure is "very good news for patients with mitochondrial DNA disease and an important step in the prevention of transmission of serious mitochondrial disease."
"The intention in making these regulations is to ensure that mothers who carry faulty mitochondria can have healthy children free from devastating and often deadly conditions caused by serious mitochondrial disease," said Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England.
"After years of careful research, we are finally at a point where a cure for mitochondrial disorders may be within reach. There has been an opportunity for public consultation and this has revealed broad support for the use of this therapy under appropriate regulation," said Dagan Wells Associate Professor at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, University of Oxford.
However, experts have warned that three-parent babies could be at greater risk of cancer and premature ageing, and would need to be monitored all their lives.
"Even if these babies are born they will have to be monitored all their lives, and their children will have to be as well," said Dr Trevor Stammers Programme Director in Bioethics and Medical Law at St Mary's University.
"Since this is uncharted territory and the children born from this technology would have heritable genetic changes, there are also significant unknown risks to future generations," said Dr Paul Knoepfler, associate professor at the University of California, Davis, said.
"There are numerous serious risks associated with this technology. These include most notably the possibility that developmentally disabled or deceased babies will be produced," said Knoepfler.
Britain has now become the first country to legalise children conceived with DNA from three parents.
A further vote is required in the House of Lords for complete clearance. If everything goes ahead, then the first such baby could be born next year.