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Mitochondrial Transfer Cases Approved in UK

Regulators in the UK have given the go-ahead for the use of mitochondrial transfer in two cases, the Guardian reports.

The women in both cases carry variants within their mitochondrial genomes that cause myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibers, or MERRF, syndrome, a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to muscle spasms that progress to a loss of muscle control, weakness, and dementia, the Guardian adds.

The UK Parliament voted in 2015 to allow the procedure in which nuclear DNA from two parents and healthy mitochondrial DNA from a donor is added to a fertilized egg. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority gave Newcastle University a license to perform mitochondrial transfer last March. At least one baby already has been born, in New York, following a mitochondrial transfer procedure, New Scientist notes, adding that others have been reported in the Ukraine.

The Guardian reports that the minutes of HFEA's approval committee meeting indicates that it has approved the procedure for two anonymous women. According to the Guardian, the committee determined that children conceived by the two women may be affected by "serious multi-systemic and progressive disease" and that they were not candidates for another in vitro fertilization approach. New Scientist adds that Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust cannot confirm whether the procedure has already taken place