It definitely is ground-breaking, it appears controversial but Britain appears to be going ahead with it.
Britain is set to become the pioneer in adopting the contentious mitochondrial replacement technology, an IVF technique that uses the genes of three people to produce an offspring.
The procedure, also termed as three genetic parents, is aimed to enable couples get rid of serious genetic diseases present in their families.
How it Works
Mitochondrial replacement technology entails the production of the embryos with DNA from three people.
Typically the DNA from a man’s sperm, a healthy mitochondrial DNA from another woman is used along with the nuclear DNA from a woman’s egg that would, in general, pass on the genetic disease to the offspring.
According to the medical fraternity, this procedure is a form of “germ-line gene therapy” and if the Parliament gives a green signal to it, Britain will be the first country in the world to have adopted it.
“Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their children inheriting them,” Sally Davies, chief medical officer of U.K. said.
Mitochondrial diseases include heart disease, liver disease and loss of muscle co-ordination. In addition to curbing these diseases, mitochondrial replacement technology may also thwart other serious medical conditions including muscular dystrophy, that have the potency to devastate the patient’s life.
“It’s only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can,” added Davies.
What the Critics Say
The critics of the technique aver that altering the genome of a cell of a human being is unethical. Many other allege that the technique, if approved, will infringe many human rights.
“Once you have crossed that crucial ethical line of not manipulating genetically human beings, and then it is very hard to go back and avoid slipping down that slippery slope,” asserted Dr. David King, director of London-based Human Genetics Alert.
While the decision makers are aware of these issues, they are persisting with carrying it forward because it is safe and effective.
At this point in time, regulations have to be formed, deliberated upon and then enacted into a law.
The regulators are unanimous on one aspect; the identity of the woman who donated the healthy mitochondrial DNA would not be divulged to the child so born. Likewise, this woman will not be officially recognized as a parent.