British House of Commons voted to allow creation of babies with DNA from three people
The controversial mitochondria donation procedure includes receiving of a small amount of healthy so-called Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from woman donor into the usual nuclear DNA from its mother and father.
The House of Commons of Britain on 3 February 2015 voted in favour of the Bill that amends the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA), 1990 to allow creation of babies with DNA from three people.
The controversial mitochondria donation procedure saw 382 to 128 votes in favour. The procedure includes receiving of a small amount of healthy so-called Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from woman donor into the usual nuclear DNA from its mother and father.
Now the bill needs to be passed by the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the Parliament, so as to implement the mitochondria donation procedure.
If the bill is passed, then the Britain will become the first country in the world to allow the procedure.
Significance of the Bill
The move is aimed at preventing serious inherited diseases being passed on from mother to child. This procedure will help to give a permanent change to the hereditary problems that has passed down through the generations.
This change in IVF law could help 2500 women of reproductive age in Britain with hereditary mitochondrial diseases.
Procedure of donating the mitochondria
The procedure of donating the mitochondria includes two different processes.
- Firstly, an embryo is created from the two eggs fertilised with sperm from intended parents and the other from the donors.
- Then the pronuclei that contains genetic information is removed from both embryos but only the parents are kept.
- Lastly, a healthy embryo is created by adding the parents' pronuclei to the donor embryo, which is finally implanted into the womb.
- First, eggs are collected from both the mothers, namely the mother with damaged mitochondria and a donor with healthy mitochondria.
- Then, the majority of the genetic material is removed from both the eggs.
- Lastly, the mother’s genetic material is inserted into the donor egg, which can be fertilised by sperm.
Which kind of defects can be treated through the procedure?
Generally, defects in the mitochondria results in diseases like muscular dystrophy, heart, kidney and liver failure and several muscle weaknesses. But the technique would prevent children from carrying on the hereditary problems as the human egg or embryo would be altered before being transferred into the mother.
Why the procedure is opposed?
Critics claim that the technique crosses a fundamental scientific boundary and the changes made to the embryos will be passed on the future generations and would lead to the creation of designer babies.
Further, the Catholic and Anglican Churches in England, claim that the idea of procedure is not safe or ethical as it involved the destruction of human embryos.
If the Bill succeeds in converting itself into a law leading to births of baby with the procedure than undisputedly, it will be a success for Britain that since a long time has been a leader in reproductive technology. The world’s first baby from In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Louise Brown was born in the United Kingdom on 25 July 1978.