Fertility doctors given first licence to create baby with three genetic parents

An unnamed woman will undergo mitochondrial replacement therapy treatment at the Newcastle Fertility at Life clinic

British doctors have been granted permission to create babies from two women and one man for the first time ever.

To help women with mitochondria problems from passing them on to their children, scientists remove the nucleus DNA from the egg of a prospective mother and insert it into a donor egg from which the donor DNA has been removed.

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority publicly announced the decision on March 16, licensing the university to implement mitochondrial donation IVF techniques.

Britain became the first country in the world formally to allow what's called "mitochondrial replacement therapy", when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority gave a cautious green light to the procedure past year.

The facility will now need to apply to conduct the process on a case-by-case basis.

The license granted to Newcastle University relates only to the clinic's capacity to perform the techniques, Britain's fertility regulator said. The university has said it is aiming to treat up to 25 patients a year.

Fertility specialists welcomed Thursday's decision.

In December, British officials approved the "cautious use" of the techniques, which are meant to prevent women from passing on fatal genetic diseases to their children.

Mitochondrial disease is caused by defective mitochondria - the tiny structures that exist in every cell which convert food into energy.

The UK was the first country to legalise MRT, in which a tiny amount of DNA from a third woman is added to genetic information from its mother and father.

Mitochondria only hold around 0.1 percent of a person's DNA, which is always inherited through the mother.

One in 4,300 children are born with such severe symptoms they develop muscle weakness, blindness, deafness, seizures, learning disabilities, diabetes, heart and liver failure. In serious cases, they can lead to death. If the mitochondria do not function properly, it can stop the babies developing normally. Foundation director Jeremy Farrar described HFEA's announcement as "a landmark day for people living with mitochondrial disease".

And in September, the first ever three-parent child was born to Jordanian parents, thanks to pioneering work from John Zhang and his team at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City.

No, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to specifically make mitochondrial replacement legal in 2015, but the first mitochondrial transfer baby was born in April 2016 after US doctors performed the procedure on a Jordanian couple in Mexico.



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