Three-person in vitro fertilization gets ethical nod for mitochondrial disease treatment
The leader of a U.K. inquiry into a controversial fertility treatment involving a three-person in vitro fertilization is calling the practice “ethical”.
“If further research shows these techniques to be sufficiently safe and effective, we think it would be ethical for families to use them if they wished to, provided they receive an appropriate level of information and support,” Geoff Watts of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics told BBC News. “They could offer significant health and social benefits to individuals and families, who could potentially live their lives free from what can be very severe and debilitating disorders.”
Children born through the three-person IVF would come into the world with virtually all their genetic information from their mother and father, except for mitochondria from a donor egg. This would be done to prevent life-threatening disorders.
According to the BBC, one in 6,500 children in the U.K. are born with “mitochondrial disorder”, which causes muscle weakness, blindness, and heart failure.
The ethical conundrum stems from the fact that the newborn would have genetic material from three people.
David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, told the BBC: “Just as Frankenstein’s creation was produced by sticking together bits from many different bodies, it seems that there is no grotesquerie, no violation of the norms of nature or human culture at which scientists and their bioethical helpers will balk. The proposed techniques are both unnecessary, and highly dangerous in the medium term, since they set a precedent for allowing the creation of genetically modified designer babies.”