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The First Child to Have Three Genetic Parents

Illustration for article titled The First Child to Have Three Genetic Parents

In three to five years, a baby will be born with two genetic mothers and one father. This could prove to be a boon for polyamorous families of the future who want to have children with more than two parents. A team of British researchers working with embryos have now perfected the three-parent babymaking technique.

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The technique is actually designed to prevent certain genetic diseases associated with the mother's mitochondrial DNA (a small amount of DNA that lives outside the cell nucleus). One woman contributes her nuclear DNA, one contributes mitochondrial DNA, and the father contributes the typical chunk of his own nuclear DNA. Presto: a baby with three genetic parents.

No three-parent babies have been born yet, but the researchers say they've done enough testing that they plan to make the procedure available in the next three to five years. Here's how it works:

The process involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the subsequent removal of the egg's nucleus. The nucleus is then placed into a donor egg whose DNA has been removed. The resulting fetus inherits nuclear DNA, or genes, from both parents but mitochondrial DNA from a third party.

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(Thanks, Stephanie!) Photo via Reuters.

Scientists create three-parent embryos [Reuters]

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DISCUSSION

annaleenewitz
Annalee Newitz

@joshjasper: I know! It's actually the biggest question in the minds of tons of people. And after the Heinlein world comes to pass, it will be even more important.