Mitochondria

The UK MPs have voted in favour of the three-person in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) technique, setting the stage for Britain to become the first country to allow mitochondrial DNA replacement.

The IVF technique involves the creation of babies with DNA from two women and one man. This procedure is expected to avoid transfer of genetic diseases from mother to child.

A total of 382 MPs voted in favour and 128 against the technique, in a free vote in the House of Commons , reported BBC.

This historic move still requires a further vote in the House of Lords .

"This is a bold step for parliament to take, but it is considered an informed step. For many families affected it is light at the end of a very dark tunnel."

Commenting on the development, UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted by the publication as saying: "We’re not playing God here, we’re just making sure that two parents who want a healthy baby can have one."

The new rules will allow clinics in the country to replace an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor’s egg.

UK Public Health Minister Jane Ellison was quoted as saying: "All reasonable and rigorous steps have been followed to reach this point. This is a bold step for parliament to take, but it is considered an informed step. For many families affected it is light at the end of a very dark tunnel."

Developed in Newcastle by British scientists, the technique was opposed over many ethical and safety concerns.

The House of Lords is expected to approve the proposed amendment to the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in the coming weeks.

Mitochondria are the small compartments found inside of every cell in the body, and converts food into useable energy.


Image: Two mitochondria from mammalian lung tissue displaying their matrix and membranes as shown by electron microscopy. Photo: courtesy of Louisa Howard.