January 23, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Nature mixed signals on 3-person IVF: deep risks, but forge ahead

3-parent baby, 3-person IVFNature recently published a thorough, insightful piece on the major risks that would come with the use of so-called 3-person IVF (aka mitochondrial transfer or 3-parent baby method).

In the UK 3-person IVF has, as of earlier this year, the government’s blessing to proceed despite the many serious unresolved risks that Nature‘s own piece so nicely outlines. Some scientists including myself have spoken out publicly about these risks, which include potentially disastrous developmental problems for the children produced via this method. However, others including a panel formed by HFEA, think the risks are small. The Nature piece on risk quoted the HFEA panel this way, “most respondents presenting evidence to the panel viewed these issues as “at best minor or non-existent”. Still, this particular Nature piece is quite convincing on there really being major, unresolved risks. It also highlights how much the field doesn’t know about mitochondria.

On the same day as this Nature piece on the risks, the journal also oddly enough published a cheery editorial that didn’t even mention risk and instead slapped HFEA and the UK on the back for forging ahead with this human experimentation. The editorial concluded:

“The United Kingdom has made an advisable step forward that serves as a useful invitation for all to follow.”

So what are we to think, Nature? Are there many serious risks to 3-person IVF? Or not so much?

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