U.K. expert panel says three-parent IVF is safe

A three-parent technique for in vitro fertilization has been deemed safe enough by a British expert panel to be offered to patients in special circumstances.

The technique, known as mitochondrial transfer, may be able to help prevent incurable inherited diseases, according to doctors.

The technique involves removing mitochondria during the fertilization process. The mitochondria, if faulty, can cause fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy, according to a Reuters article.

The treatment is called three-parent IVF because the babies would have DNA from a mother, father and female donor.

With three-parent IVF, couples obtain eggs from a donor, remove the nuclear DNA and replace it with the nuclear DNA from the mother. The egg is then fertilized by the father’s sperm in a dish and implanted in the mother’s uterus.

The only known mitochondrial transfer baby was born earlier this year. U.S. doctors working at a clinic in Mexico helped a Jordanian couple conceive using the treatment, according to Reuters.

The technique has not been approved for use in the U.S.

In Britain, the expert review panel’s recommendation will be considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which will decide whether to issue the first license to a clinic, according to the article.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at marissa.harshman@columbian.com or 360-735-4546.

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