Science and Health

Mom, Dad and Mom? FDA Discusses ‘Three-Parent IVF’

FDA officials discussed trying ‘three-parent IVF’ in humans. This could allow mothers with damaged mitochondrial DNA to have babies free of disease.

Mom, Dad and Mom? FDA Discusses ‘Three-Parent IVF’

FDA officials this week discussed whether three parents might be better than two. Not at home, but rather before the baby is born.

It’s a technique nicknamed ‘three-parent IVF,’ and according to The Telegraph the procedure combines the DNA from one man and two women.

The idea is this method could allow people to have babies without untreatable mitochondrial diseases, or even help mothers with unhealthy eggs have children.

WQAD explains, the process takes the nucleus from the mother’s egg and implants it in another egg that has healthy mitochondrial DNA. From there, the process is like regular in vitro fertilization.

The mitochondrial DNA is key because it remains nearly the same from mother to child. If the mother’s is unhealthy, it can cause diseases in the child. Despite the donor parent, the baby will look like mom. (Via KABC)

The chief science officer at the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation tells NBC  [The mitochondrial DNA] probably accounts for less than 1 percent of a person’s genetic traits, but they are important to health. Damaged mitochondria are responsible for more than 200 different diseases.”

​​But there are two big questions with this three parent scenario. 1) What the FDA is trying to answer – is it safe?

Obviously no research has been done in humans, but Gizmodo reports “Current research in animals suggests that the technique, which combines DNA of two parents with that of a third female donor, results in seemingly healthy offspring.”

2) Is a question for us. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains –

“The FDA does not decide whether this is ethical. That’s sort of left to you and me to weigh in on. But everyone seems to raise the same concern, could this lead to designer babies?”

The Washington Post has voices from both sides. A critic saying, What we’re talking about is radical experimentation on future children.” And a supporter, “There are no designer babies here. We are trying to stop a horrible, horrible disease.”

The FDA will not reach its decision this week. The talks Tuesday and Wednesday were solely information gathering sessions.