Technique could lower mitochondrial DNA mutations passed from mothers to babies Using DNA from three parents could help reduce life-threatening diseases, researchers believe.
The number of life-threatening genetic diseases could be reduced if research from Australian scientists proves successful.
Attempts are underway to establish whether using the DNA of three parents can help protect children from such conditions.
It is hoped that the movement of mitochondrial DNA mutations from mothers to babies will be restricted, which will be achieved by transferring a mother's chromosomes into a donor egg that is without its chromosomes.
The donor egg will, however, still contain healthy mitochondrial DNA.
Professor Peter Illingworth, from IVF Australia, told the Sunday Telegraph that although the procedure is not fully understood at present, it will not have an impact on the genetic make-up of the child.
"We know women who have a defective mitochondria pass that on to their children. About one child a week is born in Australia with a mitochondrial condition. It is rare but very debilitating," he told the publication.
The mutations can have a number of negative impacts on the body, by influencing the way it converts food into energy and damaging the function of muscles and nerves.
This in turn can lead to strokes, organ failure, hearing and growth problems.
One thing impacting on the investigation at the moment is the ban that restricts Australian scientists from using the DNA of more than two people for research purposes.
Nonetheless, the government is undertaking a review of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act, which should enable the experiments to get underway.
"The health implications of these diseases are so serious this research should be allowed," commented Professor Illingworth.
Plans to conduct this research have been welcomed by IVFAustralia, which suggested that it could be essential to maintaining women's health in the future.
It pointed out that the health implications of the mitochondrial mutations are serious, so any attempt by the Australian research community to investigate them further should be supported.
IVFAustralia recently launched an advertising campaign to encourage more men to donate sperm and enable more women to realise their dream of becoming parents.
The initiative comes with the tagline "you've got millions to spare, we only need one" and will be rolled out across a range of platforms, including those online.
Figures from the group show that between 2005 and 2008, the number of IVF cycles made possible by donors fell from 3,356 to 2,390, with further declines expected to have taken place since then.