While the idea of a three-person baby has been on the table for a while now, doctors in the United Kingdom have now sought permission to create the country’s first three-person baby.
This treatment will then be available to patients that have been carefully screened and selected.
The decision will be made next month on whether or not the UK will move ahead with the controversial treatment.
Three-person babies, or babies with DNA from three people, are supposedly intended to help ward off diseases which can create heart failure, brain and liver damage and muscle wasting. The process replaces the mother’s defective mitochondria with that of a donor’s, effectively creating a baby that was created from three sets of genes.
Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will make their landmark decision on December 15. If approved, fertility clinics will be invited to apply for a license to use the controversial technique.
“My own belief is that it should be an option that is offered to these patients as one of their reproductive choices. We can’t say that it abolishes the risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease, but it is a strategy to reduce the risk.”
Many British fertility clinics are excited by the prospect, claiming this gives women affected by mitochondrial DNA disease a chance at having a healthy family.
However, new evidence suggests that this treatment may not be the ultimate answer to the problem. In fact, it shows that one in eight pregnancies using this technique will experience a fail rate.
Although the treatment was already approved in parliament and a baby has been born using the technique in Mexico, scientists have felt that more experiments were needed before offering it to the public.
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, who helped review some of the evidence for the upcoming decision, said he felt it was now time to begin using the IVF technique on patients. He stated:
“We’re not going to learn much more now unless you try it out for real basically – it’s at that stage. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t go ahead now, but do it cautiously on selected patients where the risk of having a badly affected child is very high.”
If the treatment is approved, it will be available in the UK by the spring.