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Three-Parent IVF Given a Green Light in Britain

There are plans for genetically-modified embryos, referred to as “three-parent IVF” to be used in Britain. This type of fertility treatment will be available to families who want to avoid passing on certain genetic diseases to their children.

One in 6,500 children worldwide are affected by mitochondrial diseases – these are incurable conditions passed down by the mother’s DNA, such as muscular dystrophy, fatal heart conditions, liver failure, brain disorders and blindness.

"Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their children inheriting them," Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, told reporters.

"It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can."

There are two types of three-parent IVF being researched. One involves removing the faulty DNA from the mother’s egg and replacing with the DNA from a donor egg. The other transfers the DNA from one embryo to another.

While being heralded by scientists as a breakthrough, the treatment is deemed by some as controversial and unethical, and raises fears of developing designer babies.

Both the US and England are currently doing research on the treatment, and Davies says she expects they’ll be offering it within the next two years.


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