May 24, 2024

British approve embryos with two mothers

British scientist shave been given permission to create human embryos which will have two genetic mothers and one father. A group from Newcastle University is investigating diseases linked to defects in mitochondrial DNA. It intends to transfer the nucleus of a defective embryo into the enucleated egg of a woman with healthy mitochondria.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has given its approval for the controversial research. Professor John Burn stressed that he did not intend to create “designer babies” using this technique. He sees no ethical difficulties with the proposal. From a philosophical or medical point of view there is no reason why we should not do this,” he said. “I would use the analogy of simply replacing the battery in a pocket radio to explain what we are doing. You are not altering the radio at all — just giving it a new power source.”

However Josephine Quintavalle, of the lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, was disappointed that the HFEA had given the project a green light. “This shows once again that the HFEA does not have any regard for public consultation and the views of the public,” she said.