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Three-person IVF for mitochondrial diseases

The UK looks set to be the first country in the world to allow the creation of babies from three people. Whilst ‘new family forms’ are an increasing reality –often in association with assisted conception, this is challenging for ‘traditionalists,’ who have advanced the familiar slippery slope argument towards a eugenic designer baby market, and feel that consultation was inadequate.

Defective mitochondria, the biological "power stations" of the body’s cells are passed from a mother, through the egg, to her child in one in every 6,500 babies. This can leave them starved of energy, resulting in muscle weakness, blindness, heart failure and death in the most extreme cases. Research suggests that using mitochondria from a donor egg can prevent the diseases and the BBC reports that the UK government has backed the use of this technique following a HFEA consultation earlier this year.

Around 10 couples a year would benefit from this treatment which would result in babies having DNA from two parents and a tiny amount from a third donor as the mitochondria themselves have their own DNA.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23079276