UK Public Supports IVF Procedure for 'Three-Parent' Babies
Is it okay to have a child with three genetic parents? The UK public seems to think so. According to a consultation into the controversial in vitro fertilization procedure, most people support the technique for couples at risk of passing on potentially fatal genetic diseases.
While the in vitro fertilization procedure could be used to decrease the incidence of genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy and epilepsy, so far it is considered illegal by the British government. Law forbids altering a human egg or embryo before transferring it into a woman.
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There are two techniques that are used to accomplish this IVF procedure, and each one only involves traces of the third "parent's" DNA. The first involves using an egg from a woman with mitochondrial defects and the sperm from the father. The embryo is then placed within the emptied egg of a healthy female donor. The second procedure involves transferring nuclear DNA out of a day-old embryo with defective mitochondria. This DNA is then implanted into another single-cell embryo with normal mitochondria. The nuclear DNA from the donor embryo is then discarded, which leaves only healthy mitochondria.
Now, it seems the public is in support of these procedures.
"Although some people have concerns about the safety of these techniques, we found that they trust the scientific experts and the regulator to know when it is appropriate to make them available to patients," said Lisa Jardine, a member of Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, in an interview with USA Today.
Yet there still remain critics. Some argue that this is the sort of slippery slope that could eventually lead to "designer" babies and eugenics. Others believe that the decision to use these methods is a breach of ethics.
Despite the critics, though, it seems that Britain's fertility regulator is moving forward.
"Although further discussions will be needed, we believe that the reports submitted today are a very positive step towards achieving suitable oversight for these new treatments," said Alison Murdoch, honorary professor of reproductive medicine at Newcastle University, to the Huffington Post.