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UK first country to APPROVE controversial 'three-parent baby' treatment - with first children to be conceived in 2017

Mirror logo Mirror 15/12/2016 John von Radowitz
Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty

So-called "three parent baby" treatments for inherited diseases have been given the green light by Britain's fertility regulator.

The decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) paves the way for the first mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) procedures to go ahead next spring.

Board members of the HFEA unanimously voted to allow clinics to apply for permission to help women give birth to babies with three genetic parents.

The IVF children would receive a tiny amount of DNA from a third person other than their mother and father, an egg donor.

Scientists at the University of Newcastle, which has pioneered the treatments, say they already have women lined up for the therapy.

The team hopes to treat up to 25 women a year with NHS funding.

Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Every patient will have to be considered separately before a licence allowing the therapy is issued by the HFEA.

At the end of the meeting in London HFEA chairwoman Sally Cheshire said: "This is a historic decision. Patients who might be in line for this treatment will be really pleased with what we've decided today."

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The move came after an independent panel of experts cleared away remaining safety hurdles to recommend "cautious adoption" of MRT to prevent devastating inherited diseases.

Fertility doctors carrying out the treatment will aim to replace abnormal genes in the mitochondria, rod-like power plants in cells that generate energy.

Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Mitochondria only hold around 0.1% of a person's DNA, which is always inherited from the mother and has no influence over individual characteristics such as appearance and personality.

It is quite separate from the DNA in the cell nucleus which house the vast majority of an individual's genes.

But when mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) goes wrong, the results can be catastrophic, leading to a wide range of potentially fatal conditions affecting vital organs, muscles, vision, growth and mental ability.

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