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Three parents per baby?

 
Britain may use three biological parents for healthier IVF babies.
By Kate Kelland

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Reuters
Health Minister Andrew Lansley asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to assess three-parent in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) after British researchers said they had mastered the technique using cloning technology.

The method, developed by scientists, swaps DNA between two fertilized human eggs.

It involves intervening in the fertilisation process to remove malfunctioning mitochondrial DNA, which can lead to a range of conditions including fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular weakness.

Mitochondria are the "batteries" of cells. They are inherited only from the mother, which means it is possible to inherit faulty mitochondria. Around one in 6,500 children are born with serious diseases caused by faulty mitochondrial DNA.

The Department of Health said that Lansley wanted the HFEA to coordinate an expert group "to assess the effectiveness and safety" of the technique, which is banned under British law.

The process consist of uniting egg and sperm using IVF, nuclear DNA is removed from the embryo and implanted into a donor egg, whose own nucleus has been removed and discarded.

The resulting embryo inherits nuclear DNA, or genes, from both its parents, but mitochondrial DNA from a second "mother" who donated the healthy egg. In humans, about 37 genes are found in the mitochondria, while the rest of the more than 20,000 known genes are in the DNA found in the nucleus.

Murdoch said the HFEA review could take up to a year, but it was important to involve lawmakers early.

Do you think three parents should be used for conceiving IVF babies?
Read more on: fertility  |  egg donation  |  pregnant
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