The controversial mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), also known as three-parent baby treatment, has been given the green light in the UK by the fertility regulator – making Britain the first country to approve the treatment for inherited diseases.
Board members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) unanimously voted to allow clinics to apply for permission to help women give birth to babies with three genetic parents.
The HFEA’s decision means the first procedures for this treatment will go ahead next spring, and scientists at the University of Newcastle – which pioneered the technique – say they already have women lined up for the therapy.
The process will see IVF children receive a tiny amount of DNA from a third person other than their mother and father, an egg donor and the team hopes to treat up to 25 women a year with NHS funding.
Every patient will have to be considered separately before a licence allowing the therapy is issued by the HFEA.
HFEA chairwoman Sally Cheshire said: “This is a historic decision. Patients who might be in line for this treatment will be really pleased with what we’ve decided today.”
The move came after an independent panel of experts cleared away remaining safety hurdles to recommend “cautious adoption” of MRT to prevent devastating inherited diseases.
Professor Sir Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research at the University of Newcastle, said: “We are delighted by today’s decision as it paves the way (toward) offering mitochondrial donation as part of an NHS-funded package of care for families affected by mitochondrial DNA disease.
“Newcastle is a major referral centre for the women with mitochondrial DNA mutations in the UK and it will be hugely welcomed as it provides them (with) reproductive choice.”