Apr 17, 2019

A renewed push for 3-parent IVF in the U.S.

Image of a baby sleeping as someone rests a hand on it.

Photo: Katie Rollings/Getty Images

A group of scientists, patient advocates and bioethicists are pushing for Washington to lift the ban on mitochondrial replacement therapy, a procedure that combines genetic material from a mother, father and female donor, Stat News reports.

The big picture: Advocates for the procedure say it helps women who carry genetic diseases have healthy children that are biologically related to them. Opponents cite safety, ethical and religious concerns.

What's new: Last week, a Greek woman had the first successful birth in a clinical trial of the treatment.

Where it stands: Congress passed an amendment in 2015 that effectively banned the procedure in the U.S., and it's been renewed every year since.

  • Congress could either change the amendment, which is voted on every year, or the Food and Drug Administration could change its interpretation of it.

How it works: The point, at least for supporters in the U.S., is to help babies avoid mitochondrial diseases, which are inherited through the mother's DNA. Other countries have used it as a response to infertility.

  • Mitochondrial therapy involves taking the nucleus of the mother's egg and placing it into a donor egg that has healthy mitochondria and has had its nucleus removed.
  • The egg is fertilized with sperm before or after this, and then the rest of the in vitro fertilization process is standard.
  • The baby then ends up with DNA from all three people involved, although only with a tiny amount from the donor.

Go deeper: The next generation of fertility treatments

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