On Tuesday, the “three-parent” in vitro fertilization proposal passed the Britain’s Parliament, awaiting confirmation from the House of Lords next month. The technique allows parents to appeal for a female donor, in an attempt to reduce risk and prevent genetic incurable diseases.
If you’re wondering where does its name come from, “three-parent” IVF means combining the mitochondrial DNA from a mother, a father, an a healthy female donor, resulting in a new kind of genetically modified embryos. The procedure desires to bring hope to families in which parents carry or suffer from mitochondrial diseases, transmitted on maternal line. Worldwide, one in 6,500 babies is affected by any one of these diseases.
The debate of the Parliament took 90 minutes, and it was criticized as being way too short for such an immensely important issue. The result of the debate showed 382 votes to 128, favoring the passing of the law, officially called mitochondrial donation. The favorable vote puts Britain on the medical map with a first in genetic alteration, but it also places it in the crossfire of supporters and opponents.
The voted procedure intervenes in the fertilization process, removing mitochondria, which, if faulty, causes inherited diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy and many others. It is important to mention that mitochondrial DNA is not the same as the DNA existing in the cell nucleus, and therefore it does not have to do with changing characteristics like hair or eye color, physical or personality features.
A lot of supporters expressed their approval, urging Britain to approve the treatment. International charities and advocacy groups did not remain silent, supporting the idea of offering women the opportunity of becoming mother, without the fear of horrible diseases passing onto their babies.
The U.S. United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, backed up by a dozen of international campaign groups, wrote an open letter to Britain’s lawmakers. They painted the tragic picture of the children and adults suffering from these illnesses, showing how the pain becomes unbearable and it steals all the joy of life.
On the other side of the issue, critics argue that allowing this technique equals to “letting the genie out of the bottle”. It was also called the first step to creating genetically modified “designer babies”. Fiona Bruce is one of them, stating firmly that limits and boundaries are there for a reason, and Britain should not cross them, not even a little bit.
Image Source: Pregnancy and Baby