Newcastle Fertility Centre has been granted permission to offer “three–parent baby” mitochondrial replacement therapy to avert incurable genetic diseases passing on to future generations.
The IVF method allows producing babies with DNA of three people – the mother and the father who will be providing all major genetic traits, and another female donor who will offer mitochondrial DNA.
The license was awarded after gauging various aspects like appropriate expertise, staff and equipment to offer proper treatment. The technique was developed to prevent women from passing on faulty DNA in their mitochondria, the power house of a cell.
A solitary cell contains hundred to thousands of mitochondria, genetic properties of which are move to the child from the mother. On top of the 20,000 genes that define us, mitochondria has 37 genes and harmful mutation to these genes can cause a lot of trouble for the child who inherits the faulty gene from the parent. Genetic mutations are capable of causing failures in heart and liver, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy. Statistics reveal that One out of 10,000 kids fall victim to mitochondrial disease.
Now the doctors have to identify patients that can benefit from this therapy called Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT). With the licence already offered, the first babies from Britain to carry the DNA of three donors could be born early next year.
This treatment will reduce the risk of mothers transmitting diseases to their offspring. It works by developing an IVF embryo that replaces faulty mitochondria with healthy ones from the third donor. The rest of the DNA in the embryo which are responsible for looks and behavior belong to the biological parents.
MRT has its own risk factors. Studies have found that small amount of mutated DNA are often present in MRT embryos. This can lead to diseases bouncing back to infectious levels.