A report from an influential think tank could help clear the way to IVF babies being born with DNA from three different people.
Outlawed techniques that give a baby DNA from a father, a mother and a woman donor to prevent inherited disorders are morally justified, says the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
Theirpurpose is to stop the transmission of defective mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) frommothers to their babies.
Children born after 'Three parent IVF' would possess nuclear DNA inherited from their parents plus mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from a woman donor.
- Around a hundred babies a year are born with genetic defects in what scientists call mitochondrial genes.
- Faulty mitochondrial genes can lead to a wide range of serious disorders including heart malfunction, kidney and liver disease, stroke, dementia, and blindness.
- Around 6,000 adults in the UK are believed to be affected by mitochondrial diseases.
Controversy surrounds attempts to prevent mitochondrial diseases through hi-tech variations of In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment.
One technique, pronuclear transfer, involves transferring nuclear DNA out of a day-old embryonic cell containing defective mitochondria.
The DNA is planted into another single-cell embryo whose mitochondria function normally.
The donor embryo's own nuclear DNA is discarded. However, it still contains the normal mitochondria of the woman whose egg was fertilised to create it.
As it grows, the embryo produces a baby with DNA from three sources - nuclear DNA from the original parents, plus a tiny amount of mitochondrial DNA from the woman egg donor.
Although such techniques are banned, they could be voted in by Parliament under existing legislation.