This week, a British medical panel gave the green light for further research on a technique using genetic information from three parents. The panel said that there was no evidence so far that the technique is dangerous.
The method would be used during IVF to help couples when the baby is at risk for mitochondrial diseases (resulting from faulty DNA in the mitochondria, which lives outside the nucleus and is passed down by mom). Here’s how the three-parent technique would work:
One procedure, called “maternal spindle transfer” would mean taking the DNA from the nucleus of one woman and transferring it to the emptied nucleus of another woman’s egg. That egg would be fertilized by a sperm and proceed as other IVF treatments do. The other way around, a sperm could fertilize an egg and the genetic material can be transferred to another woman’s egg.
Either way, the baby would have most genetic material from one mom and dad (everything in the nucleus — 98 percent of DNA — would be just the two parents), but DNA in the mitochondria would be from a second woman, preventing the inheritance of serious disorders that can be carried in mitochondria.
Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center have tested this process with monkeys and found the same success rate as with normal IVF.
What do you think about the idea of using genetic material from a third party to help couples have healthy babies?