Are Genetic Ménages à Trois the Future of In Vitro Fertilization?S

File this under "Future Very, Very Rich People Problems" — a British medical panel ruled today that a method of in vitro fertilization that seeks to eliminate inherited genetic diseases by introducing a third set of DNA to the mix is ethical as long as it's safe and effective. And as long as all parties agree on genetic penetration rules beforehand, amirite? Sex joke! High fives for everyone.

The 3-parent IVF method takes one mommy egg and one daddy sperm, but intervenes in the fertilization to replace the mitochondrial DNA of the original maternal egg with the mitochondrial DNA of a donor's egg ("daddy's pretty friend Stacey"). That's because many inherited genetic diseases — liver failure, heart disease, and probably Norman Bates-ism — are carried in the mitochondrial DNA and only passed along to offspring via the maternal line.

Doctors hope that this treatment will give couples who would otherwise have to adopt other options — of course, when we speak of "options" in the context of fertility, we're speaking as though money is no object for people, since I suspect that Doctors Without Borders isn't going to start a special "3 parent IVF" unit that will operate alongside its physicians who treat fistulas and malaria, and I'd imagine that this won't be offered at your local free clinic anytime soon.

Pro life groups don't like this one bit and expressed concern over the "unnatural processes" that 3-parent IVF subjected "embryonic children" to was tantamount to "abuse."

British medical authorities stressed that theoretical future 3-parent IVF would only be available to couples with demonstrated maternal genetic disorders, so any chronically ugly couples rich who were hoping to pull the genetic equivalent of copying a smart person's homework and turning it in as their own are going to have to hope that eventually an unscrupulous doctor acts totally unethically in order to cash in. I guess we'll know when future members born to the Royal Family grow into curiously attractive adults.

[Reuters]

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