Beyond IVF: Exploring the Sci-Fi Future of Fertility Treatment, From AI-Driven IVF to 3-Parent Babies
Medical experts in the U.K. have confirmed that it is now possible for babies to be born from the DNA of three parents via a high-tech IVF method called "mitochondrial donation." The procedure will now successfully prevent mitochondrial diseases, known as “mito,” which affects around one in 4,000 babies.
The mitochondrial donation, also known as "3-parent IVF," allows the combining of healthy mitochondria from a donor egg with DNA from an egg fertilized by the mum and dad, and the resulting embryo will reportedly be born without the complications of the rare disease. This genetic change procedure allows the baby to acquire DNA from three biological parents and the genetic change can be passed to future generations, reports Wired.
Both Australia and the U.K. now support this new medical procedure. The Lily Foundation, which also supports families with mito, has revealed that a “substantial number” of patients suffering from mito do not make it to adulthood. It has been reported that mothers are able to carry the faulty DNA in their mitochondria undetected, and they usually find out about it only after having their first child.
The rare diseases are said to cause life-threatening illnesses, including seizures, fatigue, blindness, deafness, cognitive disabilities, and stunted growth. Children can be born with severe or mild symptoms that can get worse over time. However, the new "3-parent IVF" aims to avoid these conditions.
Liz Curtis, chief of The Lily Foundation, said: “This is a fantastic scientific breakthrough. We’re delighted that there is now hope for some mito families.” The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has confirmed that at least one, but fewer than five babies have been born with this procedure in the U.K. However, at the same time, their survival hasn't been tracked.
Mitochondria have their own DNA, which is passed to the children from the biological mother's egg. If a mother happens to have mutations in her mitochondrial DNA for rare disorders like Leigh syndrome, she will definitely pass it on to her child. These rare disorders are often fatal and have access to limited treatments.
Patient advocates in Australia and many other countries around the world have expressed their views over the new bill passed by the Australian government, the Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform Bill, now known as Maeve’s Law. Many said the "new law is a win for women who are always at risk of passing on rare life-compromising diseases."
“This law provides mitochondrial disease patients in Australia with a pathway to having a genetically related child while minimizing the risk of mitochondrial disease transmission from mother to child, which is a significant unmet medical need,” said Philip Yeske, who is the science and alliance officer at the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania.
However, "3-parent IVF" has been banned in the United States because of legal laws prohibiting the "creation of human embryos that involve a heritable genetic change."