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Three-Donor Embryos Focus of FDA Meeting — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 27, 2014

Three-Donor Embryos Focus of FDA Meeting

By Joe Elia

Three-donor embryos — a mother's egg, a father's sperm, and third-party mitochondria — in which defective mitochondria are replaced in the egg cytoplasm during in vitro fertilization are getting attention from the FDA. They're also attracting critics who fear the advent of "designer babies," according to media reports.

An FDA advisory committee met Tuesday and Wednesday to focus on the biology of the procedure. Defective mitochondria in the egg cytoplasm can pass along metabolic errors leading to blindness, epilepsy, and other conditions. (Sperm do not donate mitochondria during reproduction.) Some 30 children were conceived using a similar approach in the past decade, but there have been no follow-up studies on them. A newer approach, tested with monkeys, is the one under discussion at the FDA.

The Washington Post quotes a defender of the work as saying it's not about "designer babies," it's simply an effort to stop disease.

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