First 3-person IVF Pregnancies Planned In UK

Leah Lowthorp

As we learned last Friday, the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given Newcastle Fertility Centre the green light to create embryos using 3-person IVF techniques and implant them in two women affected by mitochondrial disease. The aim is to create children that are unaffected by mitochondrial disease, yet fully genetically related to both parents. While pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is successful in preventing the transmission of mitochondrial disease in most cases, these two cases were deemed exceptions.

The HFEA granted Dr. Mary Herbert and her team at Newcastle a license to conduct the 3-person IVF technique (also known as nuclear genome transfer) in 2016, with the caveat that each case would require individual approval. In a recent article , Herbert and Turnbull outline the conditions the HFEA set for the Newcastle license, including “the need for pathways to ensure appropriate genetic counselling for women with mtDNA disorders and recruitment of donors, and the long-term follow-up of children born as a result of mitochondrial replacement.” As the recent case approvals were made last August and October, it is unclear if the procedures have already taken place.

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