The UK House of Commons voted to legalize the cultivation of "designer babies," created by genetically modifying the DNA of three people to make one fetus devoid of diseases on Tuesday. Gattica is real, guys.
The goal is to stop the passage of inherited diseases from mother to child and now that process is legal, according to the BBC, thanks to a 382-128 vote in the House of Commons.
From the Associated Press:
The government published rules in December on how the techniques should be used. The U.K.'s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sally Davies, said they should be legalized "to give women who carry severe mitochondrial disease the opportunity to have children without passing on devastating genetic disorders."
Defects in the mitochondria can result in diseases including muscular dystrophy, heart, kidney and liver failure and severe muscle weakness.
All of those illnesses are terrible and developing a way to sidestep them sounds great but it is also unknown what other, if any, side effects may develop from this type of genetic tinkering—that is what's making people nervous. Still, experts say DNA splicing is already used in China and Japan without regulation. Scientists stateside say it'd take years to determine whether splicing DNA is safe. But for people like Rachel Kean, an activist for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, this development is the difference between having or not having a baby.
"Every medical procedure ultimately carries a small risk," she said, pointing out that the first baby created using in-vitro fertilization would never have been born if scientists hadn't risked experimenting with unproven methods. "It's everybody's prerogative to object due to their own personal beliefs. But to me the most ethical option is stopping these devastating diseases from causing suffering in the future."
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