Three-Parent Babies Are the Next Big Thing in Pregnancy

Next Level IVF

The UK legalized three-person in vitro fertilization (IVF) in
2015, and now, this procedure may be trialled by
families in the UK this year
. The Human
Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)
, which serves
at the UK’s watchdog for the ethics of fertility procedures,
approved the mitochondrial transfer technique in mid-December
of 2016. HFEA says that the technique should be used
“cautiously,” and only in cases which pose a high risk of
conception with mitochondrial disease without intervention.

Individual fertility clinics are now able to apply
for licenses to use the technique
. Applications can be
submitted to the HFEA from a variety of sources, including
fertility clinics, to either use the technique generally or for
a patient/couple to use it in their particular case. The HFEA
will evaluate each application based on its individual
merits. HFEA’s approval of the process and licensing scheme
represents what is probably the most in-depth ethical and
scientific study of mitochondrial donation to date.

[NT] Three-Parent Babies Are The Next Big Thing In IVFSource: Wikipedia

Mitochondrial donation is important for people who would be
likely to pass on a serious or fatal mitochondrial genetic
disorder without intervention. There are many
kinds of mitochondrial diseases
, and most are serious
because it is the mitochondria that power almost every cell in
the body by converting energy from oxygen and food. Without
mitochondria that work properly, function in the brain,
heart, lungs, and muscles can be severely impaired.

According to the United Mitochondrial Disease
, symptoms can include blindness, strokes,
deafness, seizures, diabetes, and muscle failure. Health
problems caused by poor mitochondrial function may include a
poor immune system, poor kidney function, gastrointestinal
problems, or poor heart function. There is no way to know in
advance what symptoms will strike, or whether the disease
processes will be fatal.

Mitochondrial donation substitutes just the mitochondria of a
healthy donor for the mother’s mitochondria. Most of the
genetic information we carry comes in our Chromosomes, so this swap
doesn’t mean your child would come out “just like” your donor,
or that you’ve traded away most of your DNA. Mitochondrial DNA
includes 37 Genes
that control cellular energy production, and those are the only
genes that change.

Mitochondrial donation in focus

The process was approved legally in the UK in 2015 after years
of research and extensive debate. In 2016, a study published in
Nature found that use of the process
would produce normal pregnancies. The technique is being
investigated in the US, but it is not yet approved. There are
no legal rulings as of yet in Mexico, where one child has
already been born using the technique.

In January 2017, a
baby was born in Kiev, Ukraine
as a result of mitochondrial
donation, and another child conceived the same way is due there
this month, March 2017. Interestingly, in those cases there was
no risk of mitochondrial disease. Instead, the process was used
to help a couple conceive — in other words, to help improve
embryo or egg quality, or possibly to cope with the aging of
eggs. However, The British Fertility Society (BFS) has said
that there is no sufficient evidence
to justify the use of
mitochondrial donation in standard IVF treatments.

Mitochondrial donation may not necessarily cure the diseases it
has been approved for, either. While the June 2016 study
suggested that healthy babies would be born using this
technique, other evidence indicates that it might not
fully protect women with mitochondrial disease
from passing on the disease to their embryos. A November 2016 study found that defective
mitochondria might develop in babies despite the technique’s

However, the procedure is mostly safe, and it is giving people
around the world new hope. At least 20 babies who were conceived using this
are due during the first half of 2017.

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Three-Parent Babies Are the Next Big Thing in Pregnancy

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