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Three-Person Babies a Possibility in “Two Years,” UK Review Estimates

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 02:25 PM EDT

A new scientific review has stated that making babies from three people might be a possibility in two years. The method requires two eggs and one sperm, which are used to create an embryo that would have a reduced risk of mitochondrial diseases. According to the review conducted by a fertility regulator in the United Kingdom, this fertilization method appears to be safe. The UK government is considering whether or not to make this technique legal.

In this review, the scientific panel, which was created by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), analyzed two advanced forms of in-vitro fertilization that uses three people. In the first method, called embryo repair, scientists would combine the healthy nucleus from the parents' embryo with the healthy mitochondria taken from the donor's embryo. Both of the eggs are fertilized with the same sperm at the beginning.

"The direction of travel still suggests that it is all safe, but we don't know what's round the corner so we're being a little cautious," Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, from the Medical Research Council and a member of the scientific panel, said according to BBC News.

In the second method called egg repair, scientists would take the mother's nucleus and combine it with the donor's healthy mitochondria. The end result is then fertilized by the father's sperm. The HFEA report stated they did not find any evidence that these methods are unsafe. However, the panelists will call for a series of final tests before either methods can be used.

"I think that [two years] is not a bad estimation. The other sorts of experiments that we thought were necessary, again it will take about two years to complete all of those."

Professor Andy Greenfield, who chaired the scientific review panel, said. "Are these techniques safe in humans? We won't know that until it's actually done in humans. Until a healthy baby is born we cannot say 100% that these techniques are safe, if you think back to when IVF was a new technology all of these questions were asked before IVF."

Nearly one in every 6,500 infants is born with severe mitochondrial disease. The disease causes the body to produce extremely low and insufficient levels of energy, which leads to muscles weakness, blindness, cardiovascular failure and death. Mitochondrial diseases are caused by damage in the mitochondria, which can only be passed down from the mother.

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