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Author Topic: UK becomes first country to approve 'three parent babies'  (Read 461 times)

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UK becomes first country to approve 'three parent babies'
« on: December 27, 2016, 12:08:12 PM »

Clinics in the UK can now apply for licenses for the treatment, which aims to tackle debilitating mitochondrial disease. Samira Shackle reports from London.

Britain's fertility regulator has decided that "three-parent baby" treatments can go ahead, opening the way for parents to be treated as early as next spring. This landmark decision makes Britain the first country in the world to offer licenses for this treatment. Earlier this year, a baby was born in Mexico through the technique.

The board of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) had been tasked with deciding whether clinics should be allowed to apply for permission to carry out mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT). "It is a decision of historic importance," said Sally Cheshire, chair of the HFEA.

The treatment aims to replace abnormal genes in the mitochondria, tiny, battery-like elements of cells that generate energy. Mitochondria hold just 0.1 percent of a person's DNA. It is always inherited from the mother and has no influence on characteristics like appearance or personality. Faulty mitochondria can cause a wide range of potentially fatal conditions affecting the body's vital organs, muscles, vision, growth, and mental capacity.

The treatment, pioneered by scientists at the University of Newcastle, transfers the genetic material that effectively encodes a baby's identity into a donor egg, whose own nuclear DNA has been removed. The end result is an embryo containing healthy mitochondria from the donor, and nuclear DNA from the baby's mother and father. Theoretically, this treatment can prevent a child from developing inherited diseases, and protect future generations.



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