Three Parent In-vitro Fertilization

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Back in 1997 in the U.S., 30 babies were conceived through a technology that transferred some of the cytoplasm in a donor's eggs into the egg of their biological mother. Fast forward to Britain today and it is looking at this same technology to genetically modify an egg believed to be carrying the marker for an incurable disease. The implications offer new hope for some, for others they are far-reaching and problematic.



Part One of The Current

Three Parent In-vitro Fertilization - Pioneer of 3-Parent IVF Technology

Your mum and dad made you, with an equal mix of the genes that colour your eyes, curl your hair. But unfortunately genes can leave you vulnerable to disease.

A mutation in a mother's DNA can lead to many incurable conditions known collectively as mitochondrial diseases . They include developmental delays, mobility issues, dementia and even early death.

In the video "A Cure For Mito" Karen Brubaker is tormented by the loss of a son.




A controversial way to prevent these diseases is being explored overseas. In Britain, one in 200 children is born with some sort of mitochondrial complication. So, scientists are exploring mitochondrial replacement therapy. The replacement comes from inside the egg of a donor.

Robin Lovell-Badge explains the procedure. What he's describing has become known as 3-Parent In-vitro Fertilization. Robin Lovell-Badge is head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the National Institute for medical research in London. A national public consultation is underway to gauge support for human trials. Mr. Lovell-Badge also sits on the committee that is overseeing the public consultation.

If the treatment is given the green light in Britain - it could become a legal procedure as early as next year. Britain is at the forefront of this kind of research... but the technology has already been used - successfully - on this side of the Atlantic.

Jacques Cohen is one of the people who pioneered the research in the U.S. in the 1990's. He is a founder of Reprogenetics an independent pre implantation genetic diagnosis service and director of Tyho-Galileo Research Laboratories - an organization that promotes and conducts human fertilization and pre implantation research. Jacques Cohen was in Livingston, New Jersey.

Three Parent In-vitro Fertilization - Chair in Bioethics & Philosophy

Requiring three parents to make a child clearly sets up a minefield of controversy -- and it's likely brand new ethical territory for most people. This fits right into pour series this season, Line in the Sand - The Dilemmas that Define Us.

To help us navigate the Line in the Sand across this territory, we were joined by Francoise Baylis. She's the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath.


Other segments from today's show:

Jane Goodall on Environmental Ethics

Obama & the Arab World

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