Newcastle seeks permission to perform ‘Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy’ on women with rare genetic mutation
Specialist doctors at Britain’s Newcastle are gearing up to provide relief to women who are suffering rare genetic disorders that may pass onto their children. Mutated mitochondria in the embryo will be removed and replaced with healthy ones from donors through ‘Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy’ (MRT). If the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) allow it, then it would be first baby in Britain to be born from the DNA of three people – parents and donor.
The HFEA review committee on Wednesday considered giving it a shot by approving it for ‘cautious clinical use’ when there is high risk of transmission of genetic condition onto children. Now, all eyes are at the next meeting scheduled on 15 December where the HFEA will finally decide whether to endorse it or not.
The therapy can bring relief to women with fatal genetic mutations in their mitochondria, which passes to the child. This can lead to development of progressive diseases that affects most important organs of human body-brain, heart, muscles and liver. The defective mitochondria will be simply removed, but to maintain usual number of chromosome pairs (23) healthy mitochondria will be introduced to fill up the gap.
The Newcastle has already selected patients and is only waiting to file an application for license to provide mitochondrial donation treatments.
Once we get the green light from the HFEA, we are ready to submit an application for a license to offer mitochondrial donation treatments here at Newcastle Fertility Centre. This will form part of a comprehensive programme of NHS-funded treatment for families affected by mitochondrial DNA disease,
Said Mary Herbert, professor of reproductive biology at Newcastle.
However, researchers have their doubts regarding permanent mitigation of threat of redevelopment of mitochondrial mutation in later stages of child’s life. Despite removal of 99 percent defective mitochondria, about one percent still remains in the embryo, and it was reported to have bounced back in at least 15 percent cases.
The procedure removes 99 percent of the mutant mitochondria, so only about 1 percent remains. But that one percent may sometimes come back like a cancer,
Expert at the Oregon Health and Science University.