Experts deem creating three-parent embryos as ethical in a new report requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the time to apply this technique, which is said to prevent genetic diseases, has not yet come.

Mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs) aim to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA diseases (mtDNA) from mother to offspring.

The technique requires genetic materials from two women to create genetic changes that could be inherited by female children. Therefore, these genetic properties may be passed on to the next generations.

Researchers would create the modifications on either eggs or embryos and would affect every single cell of the resulting child. These changes, once made, cannot be reversed.

Ethical Issues OF MRTs

MRTs offer huge promises to those who would like to have a genetically-related child without mitochondrial diseases.

With this, the FDA has been looking at the possibility of allowing this method to be tested in the U.S. However, the surge of different social and ethical issues that come along with this three-parent embryo technique hinders approval.

The FDA has tasked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to create an expert panel to look at the social, ethical and policy issues associated with MRTs. This committee will also review whether it is ethically permissible to allow clinical trials.

The panel acknowledged the issues surrounding MRTs. However, they said that these issues can be prevented by applying certain restrictions to the use of MRT. Also, the differences between the modifications caused by MRT and nuclear DNA of the mother may also blunt the ethical issues.

"Therefore, the committee concluded that it is ethically permissible to conduct clinical investigations of MRT," the report reads.

However, certain principles, limitations and conditions must be applied to ensure that testings remain within the boundaries of what is ethically permissible.

Scientists, Yes. Congress, No.

Despite the expert analysis, the clinical trials may not happen this year. FDA said it is carefully reviewing the report, but it also noted that the Congress prohibited the agency from performing genetic modification of embryos when it passed the 2016 budget.

Mitochondrial Diseases

Mitochondrial diseases may cause individuals to suffer from seizure, developmental delays, blindness and heart problems. The severity varies, but as estimated by experts, it affects 1 in 5,000 children.

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