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UK Could be First Country to Approve Three-Parent IVF Treatment

Update Date: Jun 27, 2013 09:16 PM EDT
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Britain soon become the first nation to authorize 3 people to contribute DNA towards an IVF birth, instead of the standard two, the country's top medical officer said Thursday.

The new move would help couples avoid passing on rare genetic diseases, such as debilitating and potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases that are passed on from mother to child. According to the National Health Service (NHS), about one in 200 children is born every year in Britain with a mitochondrial disorder.

According to the BBC, UK regulators will work on drafting regulations later this year and the procedure could be offered as early as 2015.

However, the new breakthrough in IVF conception is not met with open arms from all parties. Opponents claim the practice is unethical and immoral and could set the UK on a "slippery slope", according to the report.

They also argue against the procedure, which was first announced in 2008, and say that couples seeking fertilization help should instead adopt or use egg donors instead.

Meanwhile, scientists also rebuff the notion that it is a "three-parent baby" saying that the "amount of DNA from the donor egg is insignificant."

"Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on," Britain's chief medical officer, Dr. Sally Davies, said in a statement on Friday. "It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can."

Davies said the government's health department is drafting regulations to cover the new treatments, and plans to publish them later this year. The move would make Britain the first country in the world to give patients to option of using so-called mitochondrial DNA transfer to avoid passing the diseases on to their children, according to Reuters.

Research akin to this is also occurring in the U.S., where the embryos are not being used to produce children.

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