UK Approves Technique For Making Baby With 3-Person DNA [VIDEO]
A form of in vitro technique that makes it possible for a baby to come from three persons - the father, mother and a donor - is now allowed to be performed in the U.K. Newcastle University announced the approval on Thursday.
Before any clinic and patient can start the procedure, the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority of the U.K must be sought first. The technique is called mitochondrial donation which involves a female donor's healthy mitochondria replacing the mother's mitochondria.
The mitochondria are structures found in the cells that create energy. Women with unhealthy mitochondria may pass on this trait to the succeeding generations who may develop diseases as a result.
Mitochondrial diseases cause blindness, muscle weakness, deafness, seizures, diabetes, heart and liver failure, etc. according to the BBC. Some of them can be too debilitating that some patients require round-the-clock care. Mitochondrial donation aims to prevent carrier mothers from passing them on.
The mitochondria have their own DNA but the DNA which contains the person's unique genetic blueprint is contained in the nucleus of the cell. Thus, the embryo created using mitochondrial donation method will contain the DNA of three persons. The genetic materials that contain instructions for the baby's physical and personality attributes will come only from the parents through their nuclear DNA.
This type of treatment has been done by U.S. experts using a similar technique. A mother who had four miscarriages and two very young children who died from a serious neurological disorder opted for the "spindle nuclear transfer" procedure.
The doctors performed it in Mexico since current regulations in the U.S. do not allow it. Dr. David Agus told the CBS News that it would look like there were three parents but it would be more appropriate to say there were 2.001 parents.
Mitochondrial donation is still a hotly debated topic by government and religious sectors in the U.K.