FDA weighing whether babies should be created from three biological parents

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 10:39 EDT
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["Baby Girl Holding Parental Hands" on Shutterstock]
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Federal regulators will consider whether to allow babies to be born from three genetic parents.

Scientists have already successfully created human and monkey embryos using DNA material from three individuals but are eager to launch human critical trials, reported Scientific American.

But first they need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which will hold a public hearing Tuesday and Wednesday before an advisory committee.

Researchers say the reproductive technology, known as oocyte modification, could prevent some inherited diseases passed down through genetic mutations.

The experimental process involves scooping out potentially mutated mitochondrial DNA from a woman’s egg and replacing it with genetic material from another woman who does not carry the mutation.

The genetically altered egg can then be fertilized in a laboratory by the father’s sperm, and the embryo implanted back into the mother.

The resulting child would be the genetic offspring of his or her mother and father but also carry the mitochondrial genes from the donor.

Ethicists worry about possible unintended consequences of the reproductive technology, which some worry could be used to tamper with other traits – such as intelligence and athletic ability.

The FDA advisory committee won’t consider these ethical implications but will instead broadly discuss the procedure and sketch out what possible clinical trials might involve.

The panel will also consider potential multigenerational risks from the procedure, which is also under consideration in the United Kingdom.

[Image: Baby Girl Holding Parental Hands via Shutterstock]

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