Britain Set to Become First Country to Approve Three-Parent IVF

Parliament voted to allow mitochondrial replacement therapy last year. This latest decision suggests we may see babies born from the technique in the country in 2017.

Dec 16, 2016
Joshua A. Krisch

PIXABAY, DRKONTOGIANNNIIVFOn Thursday (December 16), Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority agreed to approve mitochondrial replacement therapy in humans. The technique is informally known as “three-parent” in vitro fertilization (IVF), because it is intended to prevent genetic disorders by using DNA from the mother, the father, and a female mitochondrial donor.

“Mitochondrial donation offers a real opportunity to cure a class of potentially devastating inherited conditions and will bring hope to hundreds of affected families in the UK,” Dagan Wells, a professor at Oxford University, told Reuters. These inherited conditions include muscular dystrophy and organ failure.

Clinics in Britain will still need to apply to a governmental fertility regulator for permission to use the technique on a case-by-case basis, STAT News reported, but the move will still put Britain far ahead of the United States, where the procedure is still illegal. In September, U.S. doctors traveled to Mexico to test the technique, which produced the first baby from the three-parent IVF procedure.

Mary Herbert of Newcastle University told STAT that her hospital plans to apply for a license to use the technique, and is hoping to treat up to 25 patients per year. “It is enormously gratifying that our many years of research in this area can finally be applied to help families affected by these devastating diseases,” she said.