Ask your mum(s)

The following year in the UK it’s planning to consider a law allowing the IVF procedure that involves three parents. Let me remind that it started a few years ago when genetics from the University of Oregon Health had developed a technique that allowed to mix genes of three parents (mother, father, and female donor). The main purpose of this procedure is to influence the genes of the embryo, replacing the ones which conduct to serious diseases. "This method is intended to eliminate the transmission of inherited mitochondrial diseases. We would like to stop the disease, so that it passes no longer from generation to generation, "- says the lead researcher professor Doug Turnbull.


In fact, according to statistics, there are about 20% of women who have the defective mitochondria. This leads to the development of diabetes among children, dystrophy, severe cardiac and brain diseases. The procedure of a "triple" IVF will replace the defective sections of DNA from the fertilized egg cell of a woman into a healthy donor by nuclear transfer. Personality of the donor woman will be unknown and, according to scientists, the percentage of her genes in a child will not exceed 1%.

To be honest, I have an ambivalent attitude to this news. On the one hand, IVF with genes of the third person, opens perspectives for couples where one of the parents suffers from a hereditary genetic disease. The importance of this technology development is also conditioned by the increasing number of couples who want to have children at a mature age, putting their child under the risk of genetic defects. From this point of view, I certainly support the initiative of our British counterparts.

But there is a flip side of the coin. First, this methodology is bordered with a serious interference in the human genome, and the technology is to be tested and re-tested for tens of times until there is 100 percent confidence in its safety. I doubt that this procedure can be safely carried out by the year of 2015 (such terms are pronounced by the British tabloids). I think this is a case where it is better not to hurry. It will take years before a practical level of medicine (and genetics in particular) will allow to use the technology safely. This is not to mention the criticism, which is likely to be subjected to the idea of "three parents" from a certain part of society, such as church, for example. And by the way, this criticism will have plenty of points that are gonna be difficult to argue about...