Saturday, 7 February 2015

The new cutting edge technique in IVF – “3-parent babies”

The recent developments in the UK can be landmark in the technology of IVF and a medical world first for Britain. Britain voted on Tuesday to become the first country to allow a pioneering "three-parent" IVF technique. After a furious debate, UK lawmakers vote overwhelmingly in favor of allowing the new IVF technique. But further vote must be held in the House of Lords before this become law.

Doctors say this technique will prevent some of the genetic incurable mitochondrial diseases. It is aimed to aid families with mitochondrial diseases, incurable conditions passed down the maternal line that affect around one in 6,500 children worldwide. The babies born from genetically modified embryos would have DNA from a mother, a father and a female donor.

Through this process, faulty mitochondria, which can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy are removed and substituted with healthy mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo. So the embryo will have biological parent’s nuclear DNA and the mitochondrial DNA from the donor embryo.

This technique will not change a child's physical characteristics like color, height or hair nor will it affect the child’s personality traits or intelligent levels. This procedure will make the baby healthy and prevent mitochondrial DNA from being passed on to the next generations.

Although this technology is path breaking to prevent mitochondrial diseases, it has raised several eyebrows. This law is vehemently opposed by the catholic and anglican church raising ethical issues.

The Bishops Conference of England and Wales said the Church opposed the destruction of human embryos as part of the process and hoped treatments for mitochondrial disease could be found.

"The human embryo is a new human life with potential; it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception and not used as disposable material," Bishop John Sherrington said in a statement.

"We have finally reached a milestone in giving women an invaluable choice, the choice to become a mother without fear of passing on a lifetime under the shadow of mitochondrial disease to their child," Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, commented after the vote.

Lawmakers were given a free vote on the issue, and Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said the British leader had voted to support it, adding it was not "about playing God".

There are numerous supporters for 3 parent baby method, but critics are accusing that this is a step towards creating designer babies. We will have to wait and watch whether this will be passed as a law and what all implications this law is going to have.

Dr. Mani
Surrogacy specialist
GIFT IVF Centre (Director)

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