UK approves babies made from three parents
News Desk bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-15 20:41:43.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-15 21:01:03.0 BdST
In a historic and controversial move UK’s fertility regulator has approved that from now on babies can be ‘made’ involving three people - two women and one man.
The regulator has said that the decision is taken to prevent children being born with ‘deadly genetic diseases’.
Britain on Thursday became the first country to formally licence such an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, Reuters reported.
In a long-awaited decision, Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the final go-ahead for the treatment known as mitochondrial transfer, which doctors say could help prevent incurable inherited diseases, according to the Reuters report.
It said Britain's parliament last year voted to change the law to allow the treatments if and when they were ready for licensing. This latest HFEA decision means the first babies created by the technique in Britain could be born in 2017.
The government's chief scientific adviser, Mark Walport, praised the decision as a "careful and considered" assessment which put Britain at the forefront of medical advances, Reuters said.
According to the news agency, the technique involves intervening in the fertilization process to remove mitochondria, which act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells, and which, if faulty, can cause fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy.
"Mitochondrial donation offers a real opportunity to cure a class of potentially devastating inherited conditions and will bring hope to hundreds of affected families in the UK," it said quoting Dagan Wells, a professor at Oxford University's biomedical research centre and one of many experts welcoming the decision.
The treatment is known as "three-parent" IVF because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, told Reuters it was a "landmark day for people living with mitochondrial disease".
Research teams around the world have tested and trialed the techniques in a series of pre-clinical experiments, but as yet they have not been used to treat patients in Britain.
The world's first and so-far only known mitochondrial transfer baby was born earlier this year after US doctors working at a clinic in Mexico helped a Jordanian couple conceive using the new three-way treatment, Reuters said.
BBC said doctors in Newcastle - who developed the advanced form of IVF - are expected to be the first to offer the procedure and have already appealed for donor eggs.
It aims to help 25 couples every year.
Prof Mary Herbert, from the Newcastle Fertility Centre, told the BBC: "It is enormously gratifying that our many years of research in this area can finally be applied to help families affected by these devastating diseases.
"Now that that we are moving forward towards clinical treatments, we will also need donors to donate eggs for use in treatment to prevent affected women transmitting disease to their children," the report added another quote of Herbert.
Some families have lost multiple children to incurable mitochondrial diseases, which can leave people with insufficient energy to keep their heart beating.
The diseases are passed down from only the mother so a technique using a donor egg as well as the mother's egg and father's sperm has been developed.
The resulting child has a tiny amount of their DNA from the donor, but the procedure is legal, ethical and scientifically ready, according to BBC.
"It is a decision of historic importance," BBC quoted Sally Cheshire, chairwoman of the HFEA, as saying."This is about cautious go ahead, not gung-ho go ahead, and there is a long way to go.”
The HFEA must approve every clinic and every patient before the procedure can take place.
Three-person babies have been allowed only in cases where the risk of a child developing mitochondrial disease is very high, according to the BBC report.
Clinics can now apply to the HFEA for a licence to conduct three-person IVF.
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