Brave New World

Babies With Three Genetic Parents

The Times of London reports that scientists at Newcastle University have come up with a scheme to prevent serious genetic disorders among children: give them three parents. The procedure takes pronuclei from an embryo created via in vitro fertilization, and injects it into a donor embryo that has healthy mitochondria, giving the resulting child genetic material from three parents. Mutated mitochondria are found in one of 200 babies born each year, and while most effects are mild, one in 6,500 people will develop a fatal heart, nerve, or muscle conditions. Mitochondria are the batteries of the living cell; as Professor Doug Turnbull, who led the research team put it, "What we've done is like changing the battery on a laptop."