In vitro fertilization: English green light for embryos with 3 parents

The British House of Commons voted in favor of introducing an in vitro fertilization technique that involves the creation of embryos with the DNA of three 'parents'.

With 382 votes in favor and 128 against, the United Kingdom thus becomes the first country in the world for this procedure that allows women with severe mitochondrial diseases the possibility of having children without transmitting these devastating diseases, including muscular dystrophy.

Despite the controversy of religious groups, pro-life associations and some scientists, the position of the London government prevailed, which could count on the support of a large part of the scientific community. Thus, the amendment to the 'Human Fertilization and Embryology Act' was passed, allowing for the first time "mitochondrial donation".

"For many families this is the light at the end of a dark tunnel," said Jane Ellison, Undersecretary of Health who reassured that the technique will meet a set of high standards. Although MPs were given the freedom to vote, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had declared his support for introducing the procedure. In choosing him, the media write, his personal experience probably influenced him: his son Ivan died in 2009, at the age of six, of a rare form of epilepsy.

Critical voices have been raised both in politics and in the church. According to Tory MP Fiona Bruce, the implications of mitochondrial donation, "which will be passed on from generation to generation", are unknown. For others, however, we are faced with a principle of "genetic mutation" applied to human beings. The English and Catholic Churches said the technique is still unsafe and contrary to ethics.

Satisfaction was expressed by Doug Turnbull, who leads the team of researchers at Newcastle University and is regarded as the 'pioneer' of this technique. Now the ratification of the provision by the House of Lords is expected as a given, and later it will be the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to grant the licenses for the treatment.

According to British media forecasts, the first child with three parents could be born as early as next year. It is estimated that 2500 women will be able to benefit from it and that about 125 babies a year will be born with this technique.

  • assisted fertilization
  • fertilization techniques
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