Three-parent babies will soon be born in the UK

Britain is the first country to allow three-parent babies
In the UK, babies can now be produced with the DNA of three parents. The method has already been used in Mexico, but it has not yet been expressly permitted in any nation. The controversial technology is intended to prevent hereditary diseases from being passed on to children.

Prevent transmission of hereditary diseases
According to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), embryos with the genome of three people may be produced in British laboratories in the future. The technology is intended to enable women to become pregnant without passing on certain inherited diseases to their child. A panel of experts convened by HEFA had recommended weeks ago to agree to "careful use" under "special circumstances", according to a statement.

Great Britain is the first country to allow the method
It is about hereditary diseases that affect DNA in the cell's power plants (mitochondria). The two methods, maternal spindle transfer (MST) and pronuclear transfer (PNT), also involve risks, as described in detail in a HEFA report.

Britain is said to be the first country in the world to explicitly allow such treatments.

Critics warn of the danger of "designer babies"
Last year, Parliament had cleared the way for babies with three parents and formally allowed the technology.

At the time, critics pointed out that legalizing the method could pave the way for “designer babies”. However, experts pointed out that the third person's DNA made up less than one percent of the modified genes of the embryo.

Child born with the genome of three parents
The HFEA ethics committee now had the final say on the matter. Clinics in the UK can now apply for a license to use the therapeutic methods. The first “three-parent babies” could then be born at the end of next year.

A baby was born for the first time in Mexico in April with the genetic makeup of three parents.

Treatment in Mexico for legal reasons
The boy's mother suffers from the so-called Leigh syndrome, a rare hereditary disease. She had lost several children before and after birth. Therefore, the doctors from the USA opted for the new technology in order to fulfill the parents' wishes from Jordan.

The magazine "New Scientist" wrote about the "3-parent" technique. The treatment took place in Mexico because there is no legal regulation for the reproductive medicine procedure.

Criticism from experts
Long before legalization, critics warned of the new methods. "These techniques are unnecessary and unsafe and are actually rejected by the majority," said Dr. David King of the "Human Genetics Alert" years ago to the "BBC".

"It is a disaster that the decision to cross the line, which could ultimately lead to an eugenic designer baby market, should be made on the basis of completely biased and inadequate advice."

Even today, many scientists are very critical of the treatment. Shoukrat Mitalipov from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland reported in the journal “Nature” that mitochondrial replacement therapy probably cannot always prevent the onset of the disease. The method must first be tested in clinical studies. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: First three-parent babys impact on fertility methods (January 2022).