A look at the UK's proposal to make babies from 3 people

As British lawmakers vote Tuesday on whether to legalize the creation of babies made from the DNA of three people, here are some questions and answers about the proposed techniques and the controversy surrounding them.

___

WHY ARE SCIENTISTS PROPOSING THIS?

The new fertility techniques are intended to help women who are carriers of from passing it on to their children. Mitochondria are the energy-producing structures outside of a cell's nucleus, and defects in them can result in including , problems with the heart, kidneys, severe muscle weakness, epilepsy and mental retardation.

Scientists would remove the nucleus DNA from the egg of a prospective mother and insert it into a from which the nucleus DNA has been removed. That can be done either before or after fertilization. The resulting embryo has nucleus DNA from its parents but the mitochondrial DNA from the donor. Scientists say the DNA from the donor egg is less than 1 percent of the resulting embryo's genes.

___

HOW WIDELY WOULD THIS BE USED?

Experts estimate only about a dozen British women would be considered for these techniques every year and that some women may choose other ways to have children, such as or adoption. Clinics that offer the techniques will have to apply for a special license and any children born afterward will be closely monitored for potential health problems. Experts estimate the first baby born from these techniques could come within the next three years.

___

IS THIS ALLOWED ANYWHERE ELSE?

Not legally. There are no mitochondria replacement treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Last year, the agency held a meeting to discuss the techniques proposed in the U.K. and scientists said it's too soon to use them in humans, though monkeys have been produced using one of the techniques.

___

WHO IS OPPOSED TO THIS?

The Catholic Church has long opposed any artificial reproductive techniques that include fertilization or the destruction of embryos. Last week, the Church of England voiced concern that there had not been enough scientific study or consultation of the techniques. Other critics say that because the genetic change made to the embryo or egg will be a permanent one that is passed on, it's impossible to know what impact they will have on future generations and if there are any safety problems.


Explore further

UK proposes rules for embryos made from 3 people

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Citation: A look at the UK's proposal to make babies from 3 people (2015, February 3) retrieved 19 October 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-uk-babies-people.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
6 shares

Feedback to editors