Novel IVF technique gives hope to older women

Novel IVF technique gives hope to older women by rejuvenating the old oocytes according to recent preliminary data provided by scientists in the US.


Replace the compromised mitochondria of an old oocyte to younger ones

British fertility scientists have applied to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for permission to use a novel treatment which they claim to boost pregnancy rates for women with poor egg quality who have experienced previous IVF failures.
What this technique does is to replace the compromised mitochondria of an old oocyte to younger ones isolated from cells so called egg precursor cells. These egg precursor cells are scientifically known as germline stem cells and are found in the ovary.

The concept underlying this novel IVF technique is that dysfunctional mitochondria (energy producing organelles), found in poor quality eggs, cannot support the development of a quality embryo so replacing them by fresh healthy ones will provide the egg with the necessary energy to complete the embryo development in success. The most exciting thing about it is that women will be injected to their own young mitochondria with their own mitochondrial DNA. That would be great news for older women who want to make their own genetic child instead of using donor eggs.

The technique has been developed by OvaScience, a US fertility lab, and their preliminary data provided from women with previous IVF failures and poor egg quality suggested that this technique has the potential to help women with challenging infertility histories.
However, as promising as this technique may sound no official data of this piece of research have been published so far, making other scientists quite skeptical about it. Some of them argue that there is no sufficient evidence of these precursor egg cells existence, much less of the treatment’s efficiency.

It yet remains to see whether the UK will be the first country to apply the treatment, conducting the necessary clinical trials for proving its efficiency. One thing is certain, that further investigation is necessary for deciding the method’s scientific robustness. ‘’It’s a potential paradigm shift. But we have to get to the point where it does work to make it a more cost-effective solution.” Professor Simon Fishel, of Care Fertility, who has asked the regulator for permission to try the treatment, commented.

What do you think, too good to be true?

Gattaca film. Three parents one baby

Three parents baby

UK is the first country where mitochondrial donation IVF can now be tested

Many scientists from all over the world believe mitochondrial donation IVF, also

referred to as “three-parentsin vitro fertilization (IVF), has the potential to prevent the disease’s transmission.

Every year over 4,000 children in the US  are born with a mitochondrial disease like muscular dystrophy, Leigh’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In the UK this affects around 3,500 people; at least 1 in 200 children are affected by mitochondrial DNA disease, and while many will be asymptomatic or have mild, late-onset or undiagnosed problems, around 1 in 6500 children are diagnosed to more serious mitochondrial disorders. It now appears that a novel IVF technique can possibly decrease the number of people with such a disease in the future.

Mitochondrial diseases are caused by harmful mutations in mitochondria – energy-generating organelles in the cells.

These mutations stop the mitochondria from converting the energy of food and oxygen into ATP that powers the cells’ functions. This mitochondria dysfunction can impact the heart, brain, muscles, lungs and other parts of the body. Inherited mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are an important cause of genetic diseases for which there is currently no cure. For that reason the development of a preventing strategy is vital.

Three parents – Mitochondrial donation is a new technique based on IVF that involves replacing the dysfunctional mitochondria in a mother’s egg with healthy mitochondria from the egg of a female donor.

However this method has not been tested in humans yet and for this to become possible new regulations are needed to allow the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to permit the application of these techniques. Earlier this year, Parliament agreed to new regulations by voting in favor of a change in the legislation governing UK genetic research. That makes the UK the first country where mitochondrial donation IVF can now be tested in the clinic. Muscular Dystrophy UK funded the early development of this technique, and campaigned for many years for this change in the law.

Despite the overwhelming support for the three parents method as the only way to prevent such a disease, there are still some people opposing to the legalization of mitochondrial donation arguing that this could eventually lead to deliberate modification of the babies’ physical traits in the future, paving the way for ‘’designer babies’’.

So what about the ethical aspects of a method that mixes DNA from 3 different people to create a baby?

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