Doctors in Newcastle have been granted the first UK licence to create embryos from two women and one man in an effort to prevent babies dying from genetic diseases.
The first child could be born as early as the end of this year.
Newcastle Fertility Centre said that the development was a “momentous day” for patients trying to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial diseases.
Mitochondrial disease is passed down from the mother so the three parent technique uses a donor egg as well as the mother’s egg and father’s sperm.
The UK Fertility Regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, must approve every clinic and every patient before the procedure can take place.
The plans for three-parent babies were first announced at the end of last year prompting alarm from pro-life groups.
Life spokesman Mark Bhagwandin said there was still danger and uncertainty surrounding the treatment. He said: “We had hoped that the HFEA would have listened to the thousands of people who have expressed concern about three parent embryos. Instead it has
ignored the alarm bells and approved a procedure which will alter the human genome. Last year the HFEA said it was making a cautious decision to accept applications.
“There is nothing cautious about the approval of a licence which will result in the uncertain and potentially dangerous genetic
modification of human beings. It is at the very least reckless and irresponsible given that we have absolutely no idea what the long term consequences are to us interfering with the human genome.
“Just last year a study on mice showed that this therapy could influence metabolism and aging. It has also already been acknowledged by scientists that there is risk of the original “defective mitochondria” still entering the modified embryo and could ultimately fail.
“Whilst we are deeply sympathetic to the plight of people with mitochondrial related diseases, theends does not always justify the means. Our understandable search for therapies to help overcome illness and disabilities must be done in an ethical way and balanced against the unconditional acceptance of all human beings, whatever differences they may have. We would encourage and
support greater investigation and research into ethical remedies which do not seek to genetically modify human beings.”