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Within 2 years, some babies might have 3 genetic parents

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A new medical technique that would put an end to mitochondrial disease in babies might come to fruition in two years, British researchers said this week. The technique would involve not two parents, but three, with genetic material from two women and one man.

The procedure targets issues in the mitochondria, whose mutation-prone genome is passed down through the mother. Between 1,000 to 4,000 children are born in the United States every year with mitochondrial disease, which can cause muscle, kidney, and heart problems. A human fertilization panel in Britain has been reviewing different treatment methods where parents contribute the nuclear DNA and a donor provides the mitochondrial DNA.

Researchers believe it will take about two years before oocyte modification, or three-parent IVF, will be ready. It still must be made legal in Britain, and an FDA panel in the United States has also began meeting to discuss the technique. "The direction of travel still suggests that it is all safe, but we don't know what's round the corner so we're being a little cautious," Robin Lovell-Badge of the Medical Research Council told the BBC.