Britain approves conception of three-person babies

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Britain approves conception of three-person babies

Britain is now the first country in the world to permit the use of a “three-person IVF”. Babies conceived in this way will have biological material from a mother, a father and a female donor. But why?


The House of Lords approved the inception of a “three-person IVF”, allowing fertility clinics to carry out mitochondrial donation as a means of preventing incurable genetic diseases. The House of Lords voted 240 votes to 48 on 24 February.

Babies conceived through “three-person” IVF therapy would have biological material from a father, mother and a female donor. As mothers pass mitochondria on to their children, mitochondria diseases (a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria) are only passed down the maternal line, reported The Guardian.

During the IVF therapy, the affected mother’s DNA would be swapped with an anonymous female donor, in turn eliminating mitochondrial diseases. While the baby would have three biological parents, only 0.2% of genetic material would come from the mitochondrial donor.

Chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy UK, Robert Meadowcroft said:

“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.”

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children argued that the regulations are designed to encourage “designer babies” through the cloning of embryos.

“It is often supposed that the objection to germ-line modification is that it will lead to the creation of either ‘monsters’ or super-humans,” said SPUC’s secretary, Paul Tully. “Neither outcome is likely. Instead, many embryos will die in the efforts to restructure their genetic make-up.”

He continued:

“The parents of children affected by mitochondrial disease are being exploited to support unethical experiments, based on the false hope that their children will benefit.”

Viscount Ridley addressed such concerns by confirming that the therapy only applies to a narrow range of diseases. “There is nothing slippery about this slope,” he said.

“If we do not prevent suffering, it is on our consciences… Britain has been the first with most biological breakthroughs. In every case we look back and see we did more good than bad as a result.”

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