New IVF Technique Uses Genetic Material From Three People To Create A Healthy Baby

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald June 09, 03:20 am

A new IVF technique from the U.K. is using DNA from three separate people to create a healthy baby. The procedure is for women who have higher chances of passing a genetic disorder to their child.

The IVF technique, which was formulated by scientists from Newcastle University, involves "early pronuclear transfer," BBC reported. For the procedure, the parents' important genetic material will be removed from an embryo within hours of fertilization, while the woman's defective mitochondria will remain in the embryo.

How The New IVF Technique Works

The parents' DNA contains every gene accountable for a child's appearance and character. After its removal, the parental genetic material will be put into a donor woman's embryo, with its nucleus already been removed and the healthy mitochondrion is the one thing that remains. With this procedure, the parents' DNA will be combined with a donor woman's healthy mitochondria.

The U.K. became the first country in 2015 to approve laws for the IVF technique. A study found that the process doesn't have notable impacts on the embryo's development. The IVF procedure also prevents the transmission of mitochondria's faulty contents from mother to baby, according to Mary Herbert of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University.

Earlier Experiments A Failure

Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University, said earlier experiments of the IVF technique were a failure because some of the faulty mitochondrial DNA was still carried into the healthy embryo, New Scientist reported. Residues of the fluid from the mother's faulty egg stuck to the nucleus after it was taken out. However, the process has been corrected after several more tries.

Mitochondrion, also known as the powerhouse of the cells, is located outside the nucleus and is responsible for converting food into usable energy for the body. A faulty mitochondrial DNA can cause a variety of disorders like hearing loss, muscle weakness and multiple organ failures, BBC listed. Mitochondria, however, does not affect an individual's personality or appearance.

The new IVF technique is deemed safe based on the new study. An IVF can cost around $20,000 per cycle but only has a less than 4 percent success rate for women over 44 years old, USA Today noted. In Nigeria, IVF treatments are much higher because the government doesn't help with the payment, unlike in the United States, the Nation Newspaper wrote. A new Calgary clinic called Effortless IVF Canada, meanwhile, is offering IVF for half the price or $6,500 per cycle.

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