Three-parent IVF

Britain is the first country in the world to allow three-parent IVF.

Controversial regulations allowing three-parent IVF have been debated and voted on by MPs and have been passed today (3rd February 2015).

Three-parent IVF is done through a procedure called Mitochondrial Donation Technique, which uses genetic material from the eggs of two women combined the sperm of one man to produce embryos free of mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondrial disease affects one in every 6,500 children so supporters argue that it will help prevent mothers carrying the mutation from passing the inherited disease onto their children, as the 37 genes of mitochondria are inherited maternally.

During the debate, ministers said the technique was “light at the end of a dark tunnel” for families. Proponents said the backing was “good news for progressive medicine”.

A further vote is required in the House of Lords. It everything goes ahead then the first such baby could be born next year.

However, many people are opposed to this type of IVF and the UK are facing strong warnings from the USA that this technique is not safe. The US Food and Drug Administration has said it is too early to start the procedures and it could take up to another two years to carry out necessary safety studies.