Health

U.S. report: It's ethical to test embryos from DNA of three people

At issue is a kind of DNA that children inherit only from mothers

photograph by Chris Bolin

Photograph by Chris Bolin

WASHINGTON — Advisers to the U.S. government say in a new report that it’s ethical to test a new pregnancy procedure — creating babies from the DNA of three people — in hopes of preventing the passing along of devastating genetic diseases.

At issue is a kind of DNA that children inherit only from mothers: genes inside their mitochondria, the energy factories in cells. The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to allow testing of a way to create embryos by swapping a mother’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy genetic material from a donor egg.

In a report Wednesday, the Institute of Medicine said any such research must follow strict safety steps — including limiting first pregnancy attempts to male embryos. That’s because males can’t pass along this kind of alteration.

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