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UK Gives Final OK for Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Licenses

The UK has agreed to license mitochondrial replacement therapy, Reuters reports.

In this in vitro fertilization method, nuclear DNA comes from the mother and father while a donor provides mitochondrial DNA, lessening the chances that the child would inherit mitochondrial disease from his or her mother. One baby has been born using this approach, and the New Scientist recently reported that he only inherited a small number of defective mitochondria, but not to the point of having a mitochondrial disorder.

The British Parliament voted last year to allow the approach, but only after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority approved it. A review commissioned by HFEA recently cautiously supported the clinical use of the technique, and the agency has given its final OK for the approach.

Reuters reports that Mark Walport, the UK government's chief scientific advisor has called it a "careful and considered" assessment and the Wellcome Trust's Jeremy Farrar says it's a "landmark day for people living with mitochondrial disease."

The first babies created through the approach in Britain could be born as early as next year, Reuters adds.