UK Approves 'Three-Parent' IVF Treatments To Start In 2017

First Posted: Dec 02, 2016 03:40 AM EST

The United Kingdom could meet the first ever "three-parent" embryo next year, as it approves the initiation of the controversial procedure.

The British parliament voted to change the law to allow the said three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique, also called as the mitochondrial transfer. This could pave a way to the prevention of incurable inherited diseases from the mother to be passed to her unborn baby through pregnancy.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in Britain will decide whether it will issue the first license to a clinic, Business Insider reports.

What Is A Three-Parent IVF?

The three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure is designed to reduce the risk of mothers passing hereditary diseases to their babies. During the procedure, the nuclear DNA from the eggs of a healthy donor will be removed and replaced with that of the mother, resulting to a combined egg from two parents. Fertilization would take place with a sperm and the combined egg in a petri dish to be incubated in the laboratory.

Mitochondrial replacement therapy means that the child conceived is from three genetic parents, with a tiny proportion of the DNA coming from the mother, father and a female donor. It would allow women who suffer from diseases resulting from mutations in their mitochondrial genes, to give birth to biological children who are free from the disease.

This year marks the very first "three-parent" baby born. The first baby to be born using the technique was born in Mexico in April. The baby boy was healthy.

Three-Parent IVF Efficacy

In a new study by researchers in the United States, however, they found that human eggs containing the mutated pathogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can be transferred to a healthy, nucleus-free donor egg and successfully fertilized by a sperm.

"This is interesting work that nicely demonstrates effective replacement of mutant mtDNA in oocytes by spindle transfer, the feasibility of in vitro fertilization, and generation of healthy blastocytes and differentiated cells," Michio Hirano, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University in New York City, told The Scientist.

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