Childrearing

Three Person IVF Is More Than Just ‘Designer Babies’ – It Will Save Lives

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three person IVFThree person invitro-fertilization, or mitochondria transfer, isn’t a brand new idea, but for the first time it’s becoming a reality for clinical use. Of course, the concept has long been controversial, mostly because of fears of “designer babies,” but there is so much more to this technology than creating the perfect child. Mark my words, three person IVF will save lives and it all comes down to genetic disease.

The main purpose of developing three person IVF was to fight genetic disease. According to Nature, one in every 5,000 births result in a child with mutated genes. Douglass Turnbull, of Newcastle University wanted to help these kids, many of whom suffer short, painful lives.

I’m sure the science behind three person IVF is ridiculously complicated, but essentially Turnbull was able to transfer nuclear genetic material from a woman’s egg along with mutant mitochondria into another woman’s healthy egg. THEN that egg is fertilized by male sperm. While this does cause a child to have three different types of DNA, that child will also be born without genetic mutations that cause genetic disease. Booya, science!

In case you think this is some kind of half-assed Frankenstein stuff, three person IVF has been thoroughly tested in monkeys, mice and even human cells (at least in culture). Now Parliament in the UK is holding a vote to decided whether or not to proceed to human trials, which I most certainly hope they do. If the vote passes, the UK will be the first country to allow genetic modification on babies.

Here’s where the controversy comes in. People hear “genetic modification,” and automatically think eugenics (or Gattaca). But this isn’t about creating a race of super babies, (though how cool would that be?), it’s about protecting future generations from severe, often life-ending genetic diseases, diseases like muscular dystrophy. So I think it’s time we put the emotion-based, fact-less objections aside, because children’s lives are at stake,

(Photo: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock)