U.K. To Legalize Three-Parent IVF Babies

baby family photoThree-Parent in virto fertilization (IVF) is two women and one man contributing DNA to the creation of a human fetus with a reduced risk of developing mitochondrial diseases.  The United Kingdom opened a three-month public consultation, which closed on the 22nd of May, on draft legislation that would legalize an IVF method that involves transferring  the nucleus of an egg from one woman who carries the disease to the egg of another woman with healthy mitochondria.

Human Genetics Alert, a UK campaign watchdog, is against the legalization of mitochondrial replacement.  A main concern is the deliberate changes it introduces to the germline of children born using this method. They also see it as opening the door to “enhanced designer babies.”  {the germline in humans is the line (sequence) of germ cells that have genetic material that may be passed to a child. Germ cells are specialized cells which are involved in reproduction, such as sperm and eggs.}

Christian Concern  warned that scientists had not yet shown that the technique was sufficiently safe for clinical use and could lead to health defects worse than mitochondrial disease itself.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, says: “The HFEA itself has recommended that further research should be undertaken before proceeding with these proposals.

Christian Concern response emphasized that the controversial technique would “lead to complex, legal and social conflicts and create the potential for lasting emotional damage to both the child and the donor parent”.

It added: “There are widespread concerns about the profound, adverse effects on a child’s physiological well-being, including the impact on his or her sense of identity, which could arise from a genetic, parental connection with three, instead of two, individuals.”

Additional concern was raised about the difficulty of preventing further genetic modification of children to ‘enhance’ other traits such as intellect and appearance – in other words the creation of ‘designer babies’.

Under the UK Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990 it is legal to carry out mitochondrial replacement techniques in the lab, but not in fertility treatments.  The draft regulations would amend the 1990 Act to allow such techniques to be carried out in fertility treatments.  The procedure would probably be available in 2015.

Online:  Christian Concern Warns Government’s 3-Parent Baby Plan Dangerous and Unethical
Medical News Today: UK Drafts rules for three-parent IVF babies

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