17 March 2017

Scientists can now make babies using DNA from 3 people

UK scientists have been granted a licence to 'create' babies using the DNA from three people – in order to avoid fatal genetic diseases being passed on to offspring.

Britain's Newcastle University says its scientists have received a license to create babies using DNA from three people, the first time such approval has been granted. This method can help couples who carry rare genetic mutations have healthy children.

The process involves doctors removing the nucleus from one of the mother's eggs and inserting it into a donor egg that has had its own nucleus removed.

The license was granted by the country's fertility regulator, according to the university.

Preventing mutations 

In December, British officials approved the "cautious use" of the techniques, which are intended to prevent women from passing on fatal genetic diseases to their children. The new procedures fix problems linked to mitochondria, the energy-producing structures outside a cell's nucleus. Faulty mitochondria can result in conditions including muscular dystrophy and major organ failure.

First baby born through this method

Last year, US-based doctors announced they had created the world's first baby using the technique that combines the DNA from three people. The method, which has not been approved in the United States, had to be performed in Mexico.

According to a report by the New Scientist magazine , the baby boy was born to a Jordanian couple where the woman carried genes for Leigh syndrome, a lethal nervous system disorder. The DNA for the illness resides in the cell's energy source, the mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA is only passed down to children via mothers.

The couple decided to turn to a team led by Dr John Zhang at New Hope Fertility Center, in New York City. Zhang had long been working on a "three-parent" method of conception called "spindle nuclear transfer".

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