Technology The first baby in the United Kingdom is born with DNA from...

The first baby in the United Kingdom is born with DNA from 3 different people: what is this type of in vitro fertilization for?

In the United Kingdom The first baby with DNA from 3 different people was just bornas anticipated by the BBC. It is a pioneering in vitro fertilization technique aimed at preventing children from being born with devastating mitochondrial diseases.

The technique is called mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT)and uses tissue from healthy donor eggs to create IVF embryos free of harmful mutations that mothers can pass on to their children.

Because embryos combine sperm and eggs from the biological parents with tiny battery-shaped structures called mitochondria from the donor egg, the resulting baby has DNA from the mother and father, along with a small amount of genetic material—about 37 genes—from the donor, stands out The Guardian.

The process has given rise to the expression “babies of 3 parents”despite the fact that more than 99.8% of the DNA of babies comes from the mother and father.

In this case, and as confirmed by the fertility regulatory body, most of their DNA comes from both parents and about 0.1% from a third female donor.

A solution to incurable mitochondrial diseases

This technique could be the only solution for some families to have a healthy childsince mitochondrial diseases they are incurable and in many cases, fatal hours or days after birth.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mitochondrial disease is the result of malfunctioning mitochondria. Its consequences include lower energy, cell injury, and cell death. Organs that can be damaged include the brain, the heart, the liver, the muscles, the kidneys and the endocrine system.

When a baby has faulty mitochondria, they stop providing energy to the body and cause brain damage, muscle atrophy, heart failure and blindness. As only the mother transmits them, this treatment consists of a modification of in vitro fertilization that uses mitochondria from a healthy egg from a donor.

It is important to note that this pinch DNA only it is relevant for the embryo to make efficient mitochondria, it does not affect other traits such as appearance, and it does not constitute a “third parent.”

As of 2015, new laws were introduced in the British Parliament to allow this treatment in the United Kingdom, and 2 years later the Newcastle clinic became the first and only national center licensed to practice it. However the The first baby born using this technique was to a Jordanian family who underwent treatment in the United States in 2016.

The Newcastle clinic has not released data on births from its MDT programme, fearing that specific information could compromise patient confidentiality.

However, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) states that “fewer than 5” babies have been born as of April 20, 2023, and does not provide more precise figures to avoid identifying families. Scant details have been provided to the newspaper Guardian in response to a freedom of information request.

The HFEA would have given the green light to 30 cases

Approval is granted on a case-by-case basis, and it has also been reported that the HFEA has given the green light to at least 30 such treatments.

“The news that a small number of babies with donated mitochondria have already been born in the UK is the next step in what is likely to remain a slow and cautious process of evaluating and refining donated mitochondria,” said Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust.

As the teams responsible for applying the MDT have not pronounced themselves, it is unknown if this technique has truly been successful.

Approximately one in 6,000 babies is affected by mitochondrial disorders.

“It will be interesting to know to what extent the mitochondrial replacement therapy technique worked on a practical level, whether the babies are free of mitochondrial diseases and whether there is any risk that they will develop problems later,” explains Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, from the Institute of Francis Crick Research.

The greatest potential risk is that of reversal, which would lead to defective mitochondria increasing in number and causing disease.

According to specialist calculations, 150 such babies could be born each year in the UK.



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