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Three-Parent Babies: A New Era In Preventing Incurable Diseases

TRUTH PUKE’S TAKE: Doctors at the UK Newcastle Fertility Centre have successfully delivered the first UK baby that has DNA from three people, using a groundbreaking IVF procedure called mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT).

The technique creates IVF embryos that are free from harmful mutations carried by mothers and likely to pass onto their children. Healthy tissue from female donors’ eggs is used to create the embryos, which combine sperm and eggs from biological parents with tiny battery-like structures called mitochondria from donor eggs. About 37 genes from the donor’s egg are inherited by the resulting baby, hence the phrase “three-parent babies”. However, more than 99.8% of the baby’s DNA comes from the mother and father.

The work was pioneered by Newcastle doctors, aiming to help women with mutated mitochondria have children without the risk of passing on genetic disorders. Research on MDT was first approved in 2015, and the Newcastle clinic has since been the only national center licensed to perform the procedure. While there are concerns about confidentiality, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has confirmed that a small number of babies have been born in the UK after MDT.

The UK is not the first country to create babies from MDT. In 2016, a US doctor announced the world’s first MDT birth after treating a Jordanian woman who carried mitochondrial mutations that cause a fatal condition called Leigh syndrome.

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