Newcastle Doctors Get License To Create Three Parent Babies

In December, British officials approved the "cautious use" of the techniques, which aim to fix problems linked to mitochondria, the energy-producing structures outside a cell's nucleus.

It is controversial because babies born after MRT would effectively have three genetic parents.

Critics of the treatment say it is a risky step that will lead to the creation of genetically modified "designer babies".

The mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother through her eggs. Faulty mitochondria can result in conditions including muscular dystrophy and major organ failure. Such defects are said to affect one in 4,000 people. "It's a great testament to the regulatory system here in the United Kingdom that research innovation can be applied in treatment to help families affected by these devastating diseases".

An HFEA spokesman said: "The treatment for this patient, whose details I can not discuss, has been given the go ahead".

On Thursday, the Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority (HFEA) confirmed that Newcastle had been given a license to carry out the first procedure, which means at least one woman is already lined up to undergo the groundbreaking treatment.

The treatment is known as "three-parent" IVF because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, would have DNA from a mother, a father and from a female donor.

"From the first proof of concept studies to today, there has been an excellent, independent regulatory process which consulted patients and the public at every stage", said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

Britain became the first country in the world formally to allow mitochondrial replacement therapy when the HFEA gave a cautious green light to the procedure previous year.

While Britain has been at the forefront of scientific advances and ethical debate about pro-nuclear transfer techniques, it will not be the first country in the world to have children born using 3-parent IVF treatment.

  • Joanne Flowers