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British doctors request three-person baby study

By Tim Sandle     Dec 1, 2016 in Science
Newcastle - British doctors have made a formal request to the national fertility regulator to undertake mitochondrial replacement therapy. This involves creating a baby with DNA from three people.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy has proved to be a controversial subject worldwide. Controversy relates to medical concerns, over the likely success, or because of ethical issues. The technique is aimed at women who carry the risk of passing on a genetic disease to their child. The process involves the mitochondria in an ovum of a woman. In the ovum the mitochondrial DNA-related disease mutations are destroyed and replaced with healthier ones from a second female donor. The resulting egg is then fertilized with sperm from the intended father, and then placed back into the woman and the embryo development process continues as it would without the in vitro fertilization technique.
Mitochondria are essential components for life, they are intracellular organelles that provide an essential supply of cellular energy and enable normal development and cell function. There are certain genetic diseases, termed mitochondrial diseases that arisedue to mutation in mtDNA. The diseases are many and include diabetes mellitus and deafness; Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (visual loss beginning in young adulthood); and Leigh syndrome (where a rapid decline in function occurs, which is marked by seizures.)
Mitochondrial replacement therapy was made legal in the U.K. in 2015, although no procedure has been undertaken to date. As part of the legalization, the U.K. parliament required any application to undertake the procedure to gain regulatory approval (from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.) This week the first such application has been made. With this, medical specialists in Newcastle have prepared a study case to offer mitochondrial replacement therapy.
According to The Guardian, the regulatory authority is set to consider its findings and invite clinics to apply for licences on December 15, 2016.
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