World's first three-parent baby could soon be born in UK, as Government approves treatment

The Government plans to legalise IVF treatment to prevent inherited diseases

The world’s first baby with three genetic parents could soon be born in the UK, after the Government announced plans to legalise a controversial technique to help prevent children inheriting diseases. 

In response to a consultation launched by ministers three months ago, the Department of Health has announced plans to legalise the use of IVF treatments which prevent babies from being born with diseases which affect mitochondria – the “powerhouse” of cells.

Now, Britain could become the first country in the world to allow mitochondrial replacement (MR) therapy, following Government changes to fertility rules in February.

If permitted, more than 100 “three-parent” babies could be born in the UK each year.

MR treatment works by removing the nuclear from a donor egg, and replacing it with genetic information from the mother’s egg. This egg is then fertilised by sperm, and is implanted using IVF techniques.

Read more: Dozen babies born using 'safer' IVF treatment
Lord Winston warns IVF improvements could result in designer babies

As the healthy mitochondrial DNA would be inherited by future generations, the treatment could potentially eradicate inherited diseases from affected families. Conditions can cause muscle wasting, heart problems, vision loss, organ failure, and epilepsy.

While critics argue that the treatment could be the first step towards “designer babies” and even eugenics, the regulations are to be drawn up over summer before they are presented to Parliament, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.

A final decision to allow patients access to the treatments will need the approval of both Houses of Parliament, but could come as early as next year.

“As the Government's latest consultation has again shown, there is broad public support for making mitochondrial replacement therapy available to patients,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the medical charity the Wellcome Trust.

“There is now no excuse for the Government not to table regulations for debate as soon as Parliament returns this autumn, so that the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) can licence clinics to treat affected families without delay once it is satisfied that any risks are acceptable," he added.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones