December 3, 2022

UK gears up for three-parent embryos

There’s still life in the UK’s fertility watchdog, even if the present government plans to scrap it. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has announced that it is going to conduct an inquiry into creating three-parent embryos.
There’s still life in the UK’s fertility
watchdog, even if the present government plans to scrap it. The Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has announced that it is going to
conduct an inquiry into creating three-parent embryos. It wants to know whether
altering mitochondrial DNA of an egg or embryo can help to prevent the
transmission of serious mitochondrial disease.

Legislation passed in 2008 allows the
technique, which involves mixing the sperm of a father, the egg of one woman
and DNA from another woman, if the HFEA approves it. Researchers at Newcastle
University claim that the technique will work.

“We are not ready to do this in
patients now but the science is progressing very rapidly and we need to get
Parliament to discuss this again now,” said Alison Murdoch, head of the
department of reproductive medicine at the University.

“As doctors we have a duty
to treat disease and where possible to prevent disease. With diseases for which
there are no treatments the imperative to develop new treatments is even
greater. Of course no treatment is ever risk free and if there are risks we
will need to quantify these so that doctors can discuss them with patients.”

There are critics of the
proposal. Dr David King, of Human Genetics Alert, said that scientists would be
tampering with genetic inheritance. “It is altering the genetic constituents of
every cell in the child’s body,” he said. “If it’s a girl, then those changes
will be passed down to all her descendants. Up to now there has been a
consensus that we should not manipulate human DNA in this way.” ~ Daily
Mail, Mar 12
; Science
Insider, Mar 11

Michael Cook
genetic engineering
UK