A groundbreaking in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique has led to the birth of the first baby in the UK with DNA from three individuals.
The baby was conceived using a revolutionary procedure called mitochondrial donation treatment (MDT). This process involves extracting the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs, which contains her own DNA.
The nucleus is then inserted into a donor egg, from which the nucleus has been removed, but the healthy mitochondrial DNA of the donor is retained. By employing this method, scientists can create IVF embryos that are devoid of harmful mutations carried by the mothers. These mutations are likely to be passed on to their offspring.
Mitochondrial DNA, unlike regular DNA, doesn’t determine our physical traits or characteristics. Instead, it serves as a source of energy for our cells, acting like a battery.
Numerous experts in the scientific community argue that calling a baby with mitochondrial DNA from three individuals a “three-parent baby” is misleading. This is because more than 98.8% of the DNA in such cases still originates from only two individuals.
Employment of MDT technique
In 2015, the UK parliament approved a procedure, and a regulatory organization known as the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reviews requests for its implementation.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information request made to the HFEA, it came to light that the first “three-parent child” in Britain was born.
The first baby born using #DNA from three people, #UK's fertility regulator says. Most DNA comes from the child’s two parents but about 0.1 percent comes from a third person – another woman. #DNA3 pic.twitter.com/0v1ke7kAkE
— GAROWE ONLINE (@GaroweOnline) May 10, 2023
“News that a small number of babies with donated mitochondria have now been born in the UK is the next step, in what will probably remain a slow and cautious process of assessing and refining mitochondrial donation,” Sarah Norcross, who is the director of the Progress Educational Trust said.
To safeguard patient confidentiality, doctors at the clinic refrain from sharing detailed information about births resulting from their MDT program.
Previous instances of MDT
A child was born in Mexico back in 2016 using a similar procedure to the one recently performed in Britain. Hence, Britain is not the pioneer in this field.
The mother of the child in Mexico had a serious condition called Leigh syndrome, which is a fatal disorder affecting the development of the nervous system. It was important to prevent the transmission of this condition through the mother’s mitochondrial DNA.
Renowned expert Professor Alison Murdoch, who leads the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, Newcastle University, and is a prominent figure in British research, expressed her enthusiasm regarding the recent birth by stating that it is indeed “great news.”