UK ex­perts ap­prove ‘three-par­ent ba­bies’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

LON­DON: Bri­tish sci­en­tists on Wed­nes­day ap­proved the use of so­called “three-par­ent baby” fer­til­ity treat­ments, paving the way for the coun­try to be­come the first in the world to of­fi­cially in­tro­duce the pro­ce­dures.

An in­de­pen­dent panel of ex­perts tasked with re­view­ing the safety of mi­to­chon­drial gene ther­apy said the prac­tice should be “cau­tiously adopted” to pre­vent cer­tain ge­netic dis­eases from be­ing passed on to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Bri­tish MPs voted in Fe­bru­ary to al­low creation of in-vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion ba­bies with DNA from three peo­ple.

How­ever, the coun­try’s fer­til­ity reg­u­la­tor, the Hu­man Fer­til­i­sa­tion and Em­bry­ol­ogy Au­thor­ity (HFEA), said it would wait for Wed­nes­day’s re­port be­fore green-light­ing use of the treat­ments in clin­ics.

The tech­nique would al­low women who carry dis­ease-caus­ing mu­ta­tions in their mi­to­chon­drial genes to give birth to ge­net­i­cally-re­lated chil­dren free of mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease.

But op­po­nents have ques­tioned its ethics and say it opens the way to “de­signer ba­bies”.

The treat­ment in­volves the em­bryo re­ceiv­ing the usual “nu­clear” DNA from the mother and father, as well as a small amount of healthy mi­to­chon­drial DNA from a fe­male donor.

The panel sug­gested its clin­i­cal use “in spe­cific cir­cum­stances where in­her­i­tance of the dis­ease is likely to cause death or se­ri­ous dis­ease and where there are no ac­cept­able al­ter­na­tives”.

Fol­low­ing the re­port, the HFEA is ex­pected to au­tho­rise the pro­ce­dure for clin­i­cal use when it meets on Dec 15.

The first women could re­ceive the treat­ment as early as March or April, with a pi­o­neer­ing re­search cen­tre in New­cas­tle ex­pected to be the first where it would take place.

Health char­i­ties swiftly wel­comed the move.

Robert Mead­owcroft of Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy UK de­scribed it as “a ma­jor step” to­wards ef­fec­tive treat­ment for the 2,500 women in Bri­tain af­fected. – AFP

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