The New IVF: Genetic Material From 3 People

Friday, June 28, 2013

Normally babies are created with genetic material from two people—something that could soon change.

According to The Guardian, the UK government is pushing "ahead with plans that would allow doctors to prevent major childhood diseases by creating IVF babies that have genetic material from three people."

It's known as a mitochondrial transfer and would prevent mothers from passing on conditions like muscular dystrophy, or a heart and liver condition.

"Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body except red blood cells," says the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. "Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and the life of the person in whom this is happening is severely compromised. The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more and more common."

The transfer procedure takes some DNA from a healthy female donor which then is used to target diseases caused by faulty mitochondria inside cells. According to The Guardian, "Around one in 6,500 people is born with a mitochondrial disorder, making such conditions more common than childhood cancer."

Doug Turnbull, Director of Welcome Trust Center for Mitrochondrial research at Newcastle University, pioneered the new IVF procedure.

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Guests:

Doug Turnbull

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Ed from Larchmont

Science will do whatever it is capable of doing, morality and common sense notwithstanding. How many embryos are killed in this process?

Jul. 01 2013 05:34 AM
Wallace Watson from New York state

It's spelled "Guardian." I wish the story had made clearer what mitochondrial disease IS.

Jun. 28 2013 10:28 AM

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