What would it be like to have three parents?  This is a question which may get answered in the not-too-distant future.  Research is underway to fix problems with the mother’s mitochondrial DNA by using donations from a third person.

In normal IVF, the egg and sperm are collected and combined outside of the human body, before being transferred back into the mother.  This procedure, in contrast, takes the nucleus of the mother’s egg and combines it with a donor egg from another woman which has had the nucleus removed.  This is then combined with the sperm.

This means you end up with the DNA of the mother and father, and the mitochondrial DNA of the donor woman.

The scientists say experiments to confirm the safety of the technique may take three to five years to complete, and then there is the ethical debate to consider.  But that is still well within my expected lifetime – possibly even within my reproductive lifetime, although I’m not expecting to need it.

There are a number of potential storylines arising from this.

    • How would you feel if you were told that you had three genetic parents?  A struggle to figure out who you are and where you come from.  Kind of like stories where children discover they are adopted, only with a slight twist.
    • What if there is a trait which is carried in the mitochondrial DNA?  I’m thinking psychic powers, primarily, but it could work for other things.  When a child discovers they have this trait when neither of their parents do, it raises questions which they must strive to answer.
    • This becomes common, but it is later discovered that it has side effects.