Tuesday, 3 February 2015

UK to allow the creation of three parent babies

Wow. This is one for the genealogy community to get its head around in the future... The UK's MPs in the House of Commons have just voted for the possibility of the creation of three parent babies - yes, you read that right - although a further vote is still required in the House of Lords, the UK's upper chamber, before it becomes law.

A new technique developed in Newcastle will allow for a woman to give birth using her egg, her partner's or donor's sperm, and the mitochondrial DNA of a donor woman. The technique will help women for whom issues with their own mitochondrial DNA have led to problems in the past when it comes to having a child. The full story is available at www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31069173.

This sounds like something that could raises all sorts of interesting issues down the line for the genealogists of the future. How will such babies have their parentage recorded, and what about the validity in future of genealogy tests involving mitochondrial DNA? I have absolutely no idea about the implications, but this is definitely a fascinating development to watch in the months and years ahead.

UPDATE: There's a useful article in the Guardian also - see www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/30/experts-urge-uk-permit-ivf-procedure-prevent-fatal-genetic-diseases-mitochondrial  (with thanks to Debbie Kennett for the link)


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  1. As I read and watched about this, I couldn't help but think about the possible ramifications to genealogists. Would we try to indicate all three parents? What I saw seemed to be somewhat contradictory as to how much of a parent that third person would be.

  2. It's a mitochondrial DNA replacement, but some of that replacement, albeit a tiny percentage, does become part of the DNA of the baby born. Genealogically I think the key issue is the use of a mtDNA test, the results of which would now be skewed in favour of the donor (Again - I think...!)

  3. I thought - and the diagrams on the BBC link appear to confirm - that 100% of the mtDNA is replaced by the donor's mtDNA. And only the mtDNA is affected. Therefore any mtDNA test isn't just skewed - it's completely altered to point to the donor and only the donor. Any YDNA test would not be affected. Not at all sure about autosomnal (?) DNA testing because I don't know whether that has an mtDNA component or not.