“Three-parent babies” could soon become a reality after a controversial fertility treatment against mitochondrial disease proved safe and successful in pre-clinical trials.The IVF-based technique, known as “early pronuclear transfer” was created to help mothers avoid passing on defective mitochondrial DNA to their offspring.
In the UK, about one in 200 babies develop mitochondrial disease. Mitochondria are organelles responsible for creating the energy needed by the cells to function. They are found in the body of every living cells, separated from the nucleus which holds the nuclear DNA – the genetic characteristics inherited both from the mother and the father. Happyho also provide best tarot reading services in Noida and Delhi NCR India area.
Within the mitochondria, specific mitochondrial DNA is also found. It is necessary for normal mitochondrial function, and is defective in children who have the disease.
“Early pronuclear transfer” involves removing the nucleus of a fertilised egg and transferring it into a nucleus-free egg from a donor with healthy mitochondria. The embryo thus inherits the genetic characteristics of both his parents, while avoiding the mother’s defective mitochondria.
While the method has raised a number of ethical concerns, the latest study published in the journal Nature, suggests there should be no worries about its technical feasibility nor about the risks for embryos’ safety.
Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University tested the technique, using 500 eggs from 64 donor women. They found that it led to normal pregnancies and embryo development, whilst also reducing the risk of babies having mitochondrial disease.
To reach this conclusion, the scientists analysed thousands of genes in embryo single cells. They compared them to embryos born from traditional IVF, detecting no difference between the two types of embryos.
Embryos created through the “early pronuclear transfer” were also no more likely to suffer from genetic anomalies, birth defects, or miscarriage.
Three-parent IVF could prevent mothers passing potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases to their childrenDoH
Mitochondrial disease risk is reduced
The risk of transmitting mitochondrial DNA was also greatly reduced, though not completely, as research on stem cells derived from the embryos has revealed. In some cases, defective mitochondrial DNA still ended up in the embryo, because residues from the fertilised egg stuck to the nucleus when it was extracted.
The bottom line is that the risk of transmitting mitochondrial disease through this technique does exist, but it is much lower than if people decide to conceive naturally.
For families who have been affected by the disease, it would be a step forward.