In good, slightly freaky news, a new study from Newcastle University published in Nature found that an IVF technique using DNA from three people will result in healthy pregnancies.
BBC reports that the aim is to help women at risk of passing along serious genetic disorders, although similar studies have demonstrated that this could have positive implications for same-sex parents down the line who are interested in having kids of their own.
The process, known as “early pronuclear transfer” involves removing the parents’ key genetic material from an embryo within hours of fertilisation, leaving behind the woman’s faulty mitochondria.
The parental DNA, which contains all the key genes responsible for character and appearance, is then transferred into a donor woman’s embryo, which has its nucleus removed but contains healthy mitochondria.
The procedure has been referred to as a “three person baby,” which, according to PBS, makes some doctors “wince”:
Technically, “three-person baby” isn’t wrong, said Dr. Bruce Cohen, director of neurology at Akron Children’s Hospital who specializes in mitochondrial diseases, but mitochondrial transfer is a better term. The baby will inherit DNA from three people: mother, father and about .1 percent of his or her DNA from the egg donor.
But that label “implies that we’re messing with God,” Cohen said. “We’re not talking about manipulating genes. We’re talking about a fertility technique that replaces bad mitochondria with good mitochondria.”
If an expert panel appointed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) supports the findings, BBC reports, then the Newcastle Fertility Centre will be cleared to apply for a license to offer the procedure to women at high risk for passing on mitochondrial diseases.
The future! It’s here!
Image via Shutterstock.