UK MPs approve three-parent babies

Britain could become first country to legalize the creation of babies using DNA from three different people if MPs' decision approved by upper house

Britain could become first country to legalize the creation of babies using DNA from three different people if MPs' decision approved by upper house

LONDON - British MPs have voted in favor of legalizing the creation of babies using DNA from three different people.

MPs in the House of Commons voted 382 to 128 in favor of an amendment to existing legislation covering in vitro fertilization techniques in pregnancy on Tuesday evening.

If the bill is approved by the House of Lords on Feb. 23, Britain will be the first country to legalize three-parent babies and the first could be born as early as 2016.

The techniques are aimed at preventing genetic diseases being passed from a mother to their child.

However, the controversial procedure has sparked a fierce debate among health professionals and religious groups who are concerned about both the ethical implications and safety.

Reverend Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England's national adviser on medical ethics, has said that the law should not be changed "until there has been further scientific study and informed debate into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondrial replacement therapy."

- Fatal disease

The Catholic Church shares the sentiment.

"There are also serious ethical objections to this procedure, which involves the destruction of human embryos as part of the process," said Roman Catholic bishop John Sherrington.

The science behind the legislation uses controversial mitochondrial DNA donation techniques via in vitro fertilization methods of achieving pregnancy in women.

The amendment to the U.K.'s current in vitro fertilization law enables the eradication of hereditary defects by replacing defective DNA with a healthy material from a female donor, meaning the embryo created using the technique would carry DNA from three different people -- the two parents and the donor.

About one-in-6,500 children in the U.K. a year develops potentially fatal mitochondrial disease.

There is no cure for the condition the symptoms of which can include seizure, muscle weakness, learning disabilities; heart, kidney or liver disease, respiratory disorders and diabetes.

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