Sat, 29 Jun 2013 15:29 UTC
The UK wants to be the first nation to have a "three-parent" in vitro fertilization (IVF) process approved to create babies without genetic disorders.
The UK National Health Services (NHS) announced the 3-parent IVF with a draft of new regulations to be approved by the British Parliament.
Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for the NHS said : "Mitochondrial disease, including heart disease, liver disease, loss of muscle co-ordination and other serious conditions like muscular dystrophy, can have a devastating impact on the people who inherit it. Scientists have developed groundbreaking new procedures that could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their future children inheriting them. It's only right that we look to introduce this lifesaving treatment as soon as we can."
This new genetic manipulative process will develop from DNA of 3 participants to specifically target and prevent mitochondrial diseases.
This genetic process involves transferring genetic material from the nucleus of an egg or embryo from one that is diseased to one that is healthy. This will prevent the inheritance of negative mitochondria.
Mitochondria are parts of a cell that produce energy that make a human body function - in other words, the body's batteries.
They are passed from mother to child and sometimes babies are born with "defective mitochondria" that cause heart and liver disease, as well as respiratory issues.
It is estimated that 1 in 6,500 babies are born with a diagnosable mitochondrial disorder.
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF) states that mutations are the cause of mitochondrial failure and that depending on the devastating effects, symptoms can include:
- Loss of motor control and muscle movement
- Heart disease
- Respiratory issues
- Vision and hearing loss
According to the NHS: "Opponents of these types of treatments cite what can be broadly summarized as the 'slippery slope' argument; this suggests that once a precedent has been set for altering the genetic material of an embryo prior to implantation in the womb, it is impossible to predict how these types of techniques might be used in the future. Similar concerns were raised, however, when IVF treatments were first used during the 1970s; today IVF is generally accepted."