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Three-Parent 'Designer Babies' in Britain's Near Future?


British lawmakers have approved a new technique meant to keep genetic diseases from being passed from mother to child, but opponents say the controversial method raises too many ethical concerns and could one day lead to "designer babies."

The technique is controversial because it allows babies to be created from the DNA of three people - two women and one man.

It sets the stage for the United Kingdom to become the first country to legally allow embryos to be modified this way.

"But this isn't genetic modification, we're not altering the nucleus; we're not altering those 50 percent of genes that come from each parent. It's .054 percent of the genome and there are only 37 genes to give energy to the cell," Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, said.

Learn about the real danger behind this disturbing new technique. Click here to see CBN Medical Correspondent Lorie Johnson’s interview with Dr. Dominick Hankle, chair of Regent University’s undergraduate Psychology Department.

The technique requires an embryo to be altered before it's transferred into the mother, a move currently forbidden by British law.

One house of British Parliament just approved the measure and if the House of Lords also votes to allow it, the first baby with three biological parents could be born as early as next year.

But candidates for these specially created babies must have a specific problem: faulty mitochondria.

Mitochondria are structures outside the cell's nucleus that help produce energy for the cell. Mitochondrial defects can result in diseases like muscular dystrophy, heart, kidney, and liver failure and severe muscle weakness.

"When you have a baby and find out that your baby's ill or got something that you've got, and life expectancy for a child with mitochondria is very short, very short. And I think that's devastating for a woman," Olivia Seaby, who suffers from faulty mitochondria, said.

Opponents say the DNA-swapping technique is not safe or ethical. The group Human Genetics Alert said the move would open the door to further genetically modify children.

"This will be the first time that we would intentionally manipulate the human genome. It is something that governments around the world have agreed for the last 20 years that we shouldn't do. And once you cross that line, then it's very hard to stop going down the slippery slope to designer babies," Dr. David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, said.

The scientists behind the new technique say it would likely only be used in about a dozen British women every year.

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