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Church of England warns over three-parent babies

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The Church of England has expressed opposition to an amendment on a bill up for debate next week that would allow so-called “three-parent babies.”

Introducing laws to allow in vitro fertilization (IVF) babies to be born with DNA from three different people would be “irresponsible,” said medical ethics adviser to the Church of England, Rev Dr. Brendan McCarthy.

An amendment to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008 is due for vote on February 3, that if passed would allow the replacement of an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor.

The procedure would prevent children from inheriting debilitating conditions like muscular dystrophy.

However, the Church of England called for more research, saying the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics was not clearly understood.

“The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer,” McCarthy added.

Meanwhile, two science advisers insisted that the medical benefits were likely to outweigh any risks in creating three-parent babies.

Nearly 2,500 British women with genetic mutations in their mitochondria could benefit from the procedure.

About one in every 200 babies born in the United Kingdom inherits a mitochondrial disease.

If passed, the new legislation would open doors into the first human trials from October and the first babies born by 2016.


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