Babies Made from DNA of 3 People Now Permitted in UK

Dec 16, 2016 04:20 AM EST

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), United Kingdom's fertility regulators, are now allowing the "cautious" use of IVF technique to create a baby using DNA from three different people.

According to the report from the National Public Radio, the decision of the HFEA to allow the use of the so-called mitochondrial donation comes after an independent expert scientific panel convened by the fertility regulators found that the procedure is both safe and effective.

"Today's historic decision means that parents at very high risk of having a child with a life-threatening mitochondrial disease may soon have the chance of a healthy, genetically related child. This is life-changing for those families," said Sally Cheshire, chair of HFEA, in a press release. "After a lot of hard work and invaluable advice from the expert panel, who reviewed the development, safety and efficacy of these techniques over five years and four reports, we feel now is the right time to carefully introduce this new treatment in the limited circumstances recommended by the panel."

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HFEA noted that the use of mitochondrial donation will be closely monitored. Parents can only be allowed to receive DNA from a third person during certain cases "where alternative treatments would be of little or no benefit to mothers at risk of passing mitochondrial disease on to their children."

With mitochondrial donations, mothers who have mitochondrial defects can now have babies born free of these diseases. The procedure will use healthy mitochondrial DNA from egg donated by other woman, in place of the defective mitochondrial DNA of the real mother.

Mitochondrial diseases are a group of metabolic disorders caused by genetic mutations. The symptoms of mitochondrial diseases may range from mild to severe. So far, mitochondrial diseases have no cures. However, there are available treatments that may relieve the symptoms and slow down the disease. These treatments may include physical therapy, special diets, medicines, vitamins and nutrients.

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