It’s official: the UK has approved IVF using the DNA of three people, and the first attempt could take place as soon as the end of the year.
The purpose of this controversial technique is not some bizarre sci-fi experiment or attempt to play God – as cited by some critics – but rather to help women who are carriers of certain diseases by replacing mitochondrial DNA with that of an egg donor’s, and then using the nucleus DNA from the intended parents; effectively creating an embryo that is still genetically related to the parents who will be raising the child.
According to UK health minister Lord Howe, this is an opportunity to offer “real hope” to families.
“Families can see that the technology is there to help them and are keen to take it up, they have noted the conclusions of the expert panel.
“It would be cruel and perverse in my opinion, to deny them that opportunity for any longer than absolutely necessary.”
We found this diagram from this BBC News article to be very helpful in explaining the method and process:
1) Two eggs are fertilised with sperm, creating an embryo from the intended parents and another from the donors 2) The pronuclei, which contain genetic information, are removed from both embryos but only the parents’ are kept 3) A healthy embryo is created by adding the parents’ pronuclei to the donor embryo, which is finally implanted into the womb