Britain has become the first country to formally licence an advanced form of IVF treatment designed to create babies from three people.
In a long-awaited decision, Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) gave the final go-ahead for the controversial treatment known as mitochondrial transfer, which doctors say could help prevent children being born with deadly genetic diseases.
The treatment is known as “three-parent” IVF because the babies, born from genetically modified embryos, have DNA from a mother, a father and from another female donor.
By using a donor egg and the mother’s egg the technique replaces abnormal genes passed on by the mother.
The ultimate goal is to prevent incurable mitochondrial diseases, which can leave patients with insufficient energy to keep their heart beating.
Hanah Smith, a prospective mother said: “It’s absolutely amazing, it’s such a relief, and it’s going to give hope to so many women in my situation, that we can have a family, but our babies are going to be healthy and not going to have to carry the burden of mitochondrial disease.”
Scientists at the University of Newcastle, which has pioneered the therapy, say they already have women lined up to receive it. The team aims to help 25 couples every year.
Mary Herbert, Professor of Reproductive Biology at Newcastle University said: “We got our first research license in 2005, and we’ve been working very hard since then really, to optimize a technique we’ve been working on to get it to a stage where we’ll be likely to achieve a pregnancy and to prevent transmission of disease.”