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         January 2017

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GO-AHEAD FOR THREE PARENT BABIES

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has approved the creation of babies using the DNA from three people - two women and one man. This highly controversial technique is a means to prevent children being born with deadly genetic mitochondrial diseases which are only inherited from the mother.

The process involves the transference of the ooplasm from a healthy donor egg into a faulty maternal egg. This process may result in the child inheriting the DNA of three individuals: the father, the mother and the donor. The first child created through this technique could be born by the end of 2017.

Despite the procedure being legal and HFEA claiming that is ethical and scientifically sound, deep concerns are being raised about this controversial new technique. For example, SPUC (the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) has strongly criticised the decision saying that the procedure not only shows a lack of respect for human life and reproduction, but also raises very serious concerns about safety. Bioethicist Dr Anthony McCarthy, of SPUC, has said: "It comes as little surprise that the HFEA has approved the creation of 'three-parent' embryos given their track record of undermining respect for the human embryo and the integrity of human reproduction. The two techniques which the HFEA has decided to permit are not curative of mitochondrial diseases and in no way help those who already have them."......"One technique, Pronuclear Transfer, destroys two human embryos by removing the nuclear material from an embryo with faulty mitochondria, whose life is ended, and creating a new embryo by placing this nuclear material into the shell of a second embryo who is also destroyed." "The fact that there are now calls in Newcastle for egg donors - in practice, to produce healthy embryos solely for spare parts - tells us much about attitudes to women used to produce embryos this way, and harms and endangers us all."....."The other technique, Maternal Spindle Transfer, uses a donor egg which is enucleated and then given the nucleus from the egg of the woman with the mitochondrial condition, such that when the egg is fertilised an embryo is formed, it is hoped free from disease (this embryo has 'three parents' as the donor egg is from a mother who makes a genetic contribution to the embryo). While no embryos need be destroyed in the technique itself, the new life has come to be through a production process which fragments maternity and will in practice be subject to quality-control."...... "Finally, it is worth noting that there are very serious safety concerns about these techniques, which may well pass on new genetic problems to future generations. Such concerns have been raised many times by authoritative voices in the scientific community and elsewhere. The HFEA, as well as undermining respect for human life and reproduction, continues to show a reckless attitude to the safety of the society it is supposed to serve." (as quoted by SPUC)


See also: Three-parent babies  “threat to humanity”;New Scientist – “It’s more messy than we thought” (image news November 2014) and MPs back “three-parent” babies despite safety and ethical concerns (image news March 2015).  


A diagrammatic explanation of mitochondrial replacement may be found here.


ttps://www.spuc.org.uk/news/press-releases/2016/december/spuc-condemns-hfea-approval-of-three-parent-babies

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/12/15/three-parent-babies-ivf-clinics-told-can-create-children-two/