UK licence granted for three-person baby16/03/17Health
The fertility regulator has confirmed that doctors in Newcastle have been given the first UK licence to create babies from two women and one man.
The advanced form of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be used to prevent children dying from genetic diseases.
The first child could be born, at the earliest, by the end of 2017.
The team at the Newcastle Fertility Centre said it was “good news” and a “momentous day” for patients.
Some families have lost multiple children to incurable mitochondrial diseases.
The diseases are passed down from only the mother – so a technique using a donor egg as well as the mother’s egg and father’s sperm has been developed.
The resulting child has a small amount of their DNA from the donor, but the procedure is legal and reviews say it is ethical and scientifically ready.
The UK Fertility Regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), must approve every clinic and every patient before the procedure can take place.
Professor Sir Doug Turnbull, the director of the Wellcome Centre for mitochondrial research at Newcastle University, said: “I am delighted for patients as this will allow women with mitochondria DNA mutations the opportunity for more reproductive choice.
“Mitochondria diseases can be devastating for families affected, and this is a momentous day for patients who have tirelessly campaigned for this decision.”
The team in Newcastle anticipate helping 25 couples every year.
Three-person babies have been allowed only in cases where the risk of a child developing mitochondrial disease is very high.