At first glance, mitochondrial replacement easily lends itself to controversy. Sure enough, the prospect of scientists fusing a donated human egg cell with the egg-cell nucleus from a prospective mother is one that has prompted both dire warnings of unintended (if not unimaginable) consequences and also more generalised alarm at the unnaturalness of “three-parent babies”.
After exhaustive consultation and debate, however, the procedure is to become part of Britain’s medical lexicon. Indeed, with enabling legislation expected to be passed in 2014, the spectre of severe mitochondrial disorder could be lifted within two years. Not only is the move good news for the babies who would otherwise be at risk. It is also an example of Britain leading the world – breaking new ground medically and also ethically. Both are to be applauded.