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Three-Parent Babies Coming Soon?

ivf-baby-sm250Adoption, divorce, same-sex marriages, in-vitro fertilization and more have all served to change the way we think about what it means to make a family. But amid all the medical miracles and the blending and rearranging of the family unit, one thing remains the same:  Children will always have just one biological father and one biological mother.  Or will they?

Scientists at Newcastle University have come up with a technique which allows them to create an embryo that includes the DNA of two women and one man.

It’s a complicated procedure that involves removing the nuclei from the dad’s sperm and the mom’s egg and placing it in a donor egg that has had its own nucleus removed.  This new embryo would contain the DNA of mom, dad and a tiny bit of mitochondrial DNA from the donor egg. This purpose of this procedure would be to keep damaged DNA in the mitochondria from passing from mom to baby.

The Newcastle University scientists created 80 embryos this way using fertilized eggs left over from IVF treatments.  Currently, IVF clinics are not allowed to duplicate the procedure and if some people have their way, they never will.  While this IVF three-way would help the 1 in 6,500 babies born each year with complications from mutations in the mitochondrial DNA, there are ethical issues to overcome first.  The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a Christian pro-life group, calls the experiments an abuse of humanity and urges researchers to abandon the research in favor of “ethical alternatives.”

Image: moyix/Flickr

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