Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breakthrough in Disease Battle; Medics in Newcastle Are Playing a World-Leading Role in the Fight against Incurable Mitochondrial Disease. Chief Reporter CRAIG THOMPSON Meets One Young Sufferer with the Condition and Finds out How Newcastle University Experts Are Hoping to Reduce the Risk to Those Most Susceptible to the Devastating Condition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breakthrough in Disease Battle; Medics in Newcastle Are Playing a World-Leading Role in the Fight against Incurable Mitochondrial Disease. Chief Reporter CRAIG THOMPSON Meets One Young Sufferer with the Condition and Finds out How Newcastle University Experts Are Hoping to Reduce the Risk to Those Most Susceptible to the Devastating Condition

Article excerpt

Byline: CRAIG THOMPSON

AMEDICAL breakthrough by Newcastle scientists could play a vital role in preventing an incurable disease being passed from mother to child.

The new IVF-based technique is likely to lead to normal pregnancies and reduce the risk that babies born will have life-limiting mitochondrial disease.

The breakthrough comes thanks to researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University.

Scientists in the city report the first in-depth analysis of human embryos created using a new technique designed to reduce the risk of mothers passing on mitochondrial disease to their children.

The new technique, called 'early pronuclear transfer', involves transplanting the nuclear DNA from a fertilised egg into a donated egg, which contains healthy mitochondria, on the day of fertilisation.

On Wednesday researchers, in a study involving over 500 eggs from 64 donor women, published results indicating the new procedure does not adversely affect human development and will greatly reduce the level of faulty mitochondria in the embryo.

Their results suggest that the technique will lead to normal pregnancies whilst also reducing the risk of babies having mitochondrial disease.

The news has the potential to save hundreds of lives in the future, with medics having battled to understand the complex and life threatening disease.

The results of this study will be considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) expert scientific panel.

It will then be up to the HFEA to decide whether to issue the first licence to a clinic.

A licensed clinic would allow couples affected by mitochondrial disease to have the choice of whether to use pronuclear transfer to try and have healthy children. …

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