Three parent babies draft bill may be approved by the end of 2014

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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I have previously blogged on this matter; initially as a hypothetical scientific possibility and now it appears a reality by the end of this year. Hannah Devlin, Science reporter for the Times comments further on 28 February 2014.

The aim of this therapy is to eliminate certain incurable genetic diseases that can be passed to a child; by using small amounts of genetic material (DNA) from an anonymous female donor.

Professor Doug Turnbull who has pioneered research on the technique said that "the final efforts to ensure its safety were taking place".

The technique involves replacing faulty mitochondria. They do not influence intelligence or appearance. Failure of mitochondria can cause fatal liver, neurological and heart defects. 100 children a year are born with such conditions.

Dame Sally Davies, the Chief medical Officer said that this will give many women, who carry this mitochondrial disease, the opportunity to have children without passing on these fatal conditions.

There are some concerns about this being the slippery slope and designer babies. However, apparently, many of the public do support this advance. Couples would have to apply for this technique and their cases would be assessed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The draft guidelines will be subject to public consultation until May 21st. Unlike sperm and egg donors, these donors would be anonymous.

It is excellent to see the UK at the forefront of such advances. However, I believe that concerns will be raised. The consultation will be the opportunity to do so.

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About the Author

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Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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