First 'three person baby' born

First 'three person baby' born

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First baby born using new “three person” fertility technique carried out by US scientists, New Scientist reveals.


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Three-person babies IVF technique ‘safe’
Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent

Early pronuclear transfer: The nuclei from a recently created embryo – from the egg and sperm – being injected into a donor embryo which has had its nucleus removed
The use of an IVF technique involving DNA from three people to create a baby has moved a step closer with a study that shows it is safe.
Scientists at Newcastle University are trying to help women who are at risk of passing on serious genetic disorders to have a healthy child.
Last year the UK approved laws to permit the procedure, which involves using donor DNA from a second woman.

The study in Nature found the technique will lead to normal pregnancies.
The process, known as “early pronuclear transfer” involves removing the parents’ key genetic material from an embryo within hours of fertilisation, leaving behind the woman’s faulty mitochondria.

The parental DNA, which contains all the key genes responsible for character and appearance, is then transferred into a donor woman’s embryo, which has its nucleus removed but contains healthy mitochondria.
Last year the UK became the first country to approve laws to permit the procedure.
A study involving more than 500 eggs from 64 donor women found that the new procedure did not adversely affect embryo development and significantly reduced the amount of faulty mitochondria being passed on.

Prof Doug Turnbull, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Disease at Newcastle University and a co-author of the study, said: “This study using normal human eggs is a major advance in our work towards preventing transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease.”
Prof Mary Herbert, also from the centre, added: “We are optimistic that the technique we have developed will offer affected women the possibility of reducing the risk of transmitting mitochondrial DNA to their children”.
But the studies showed the technique was not always successful. The amount of faulty mitochondrial DNA transferred during the procedure was less than 2%.

However, one in five of the stem cell lines created from the embryos showed an increase in carryover of defective DNA from the original embryo.
Prof Turnbull said: “Our studies on stem cells does express a cautionary note that it might not be 100% efficient in preventing transmission, but for many women who carry these mutations the risk is far less than conceiving naturally.”

Mother to child
Mitochondria are tiny structures which sit outside the nucleus of the cell and convert food into useable energy.

Genetic faults in the mitochondrial DNA mean the body has insufficient energy for key functions. This can cause a huge range of serious illnesses including muscle weakness, hearing loss and multiple organ failure.

The structures are always passed on from mother to child and have their own small amount of DNA, but it does not affect appearance or personality.

Clare Exton wants to ensure that any child she has will be free of mitochondrial disease
Clare Exton, aged 36, from south Derbyshire, who carries faulty mitochondria, is hopeful that the Newcastle team may be able to help her have a healthy baby.

Her mother Norma had multiple health problems due to mitochondrial disease and died aged 58.
Clare told me: “Mum got increasingly weaker over the years. She suffered epilepsy, deafness, heart and breathing problems and was very unsteady on her feet.”

Clare is partially deaf and wears hearing aids due to the faulty mitochondria she inherited. Her health is regularly monitored at the Centre for Mitochondrial Research in Newcastle.

She said: "Everyone wants to have a healthy child, but how my mum suffered it makes me even more determined that any baby I have is not affected by this terrible disorder.
“Knowing that the treatment would prevent the condition passing down future generations would be wonderful.”

Marie Austin is another patient at the Newcastle clinic. She is partially deaf due to due to faulty mitochondria and also suffers fatigue and mobility problems. Marie’s son Adam died aged 12 from organ failure due to severe mitochondrial disease.

Marie Austin lost her son to mitochondrial disease
Marie said: “Adam was a very positive smiling boy but he had very serious health problems from the aged of eight which got progressively worse. I have a daughter, Kaitlyn, who’s 11 and she seems to be healthy for now. I really want her to benefit from this new treatment so in years to come she can have a child who is unaffected and I can have a healthy grandchild.”

The technique used in Newcastle would mean that the healthy mitochondria of a donor woman would combine with the DNA of the parents.
It would result in babies with 0.1% of their DNA from the second woman, and this genetic material would pass down subsequent generations.
The publication of the safety data was the last piece of scientific data required by the UK regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

An expert panel appointed by HFEA will now consider the results of the study.
If it supports the findings then the team at Newcastle Fertility Centre will be able to apply for a licence to offer the procedure to women at high risk of passing on inherited mitochondrial diseases.

Deal Colonel

First ‘three person baby’ born using new method

A human egg injected with a micro-needle that contains a single spermImage copyrightSPL
The world’s first baby has been born using a new “three person” fertility technique, New Scientist reveals.

The five-month-old boy has the usual DNA from his mum and dad, plus a tiny bit of genetic code from a donor.

US doctors took the unprecedented step to ensure the baby boy would be free of a genetic condition that his Jordanian mother carries in her genes.
Experts say the move heralds a new era in medicine and could help other families with rare genetic conditions.
But they warn that rigorous checks of this new and controversial technology, called mitochondrial donation, are needed.

It’s not the first time scientists have created babies that have DNA from three people – that breakthrough began in the late 1990s – but it is an entirely new and significant method.
Three person babies
Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside nearly every cell of the body that convert food into usable energy.

Some women carry genetic defects in mitochondria and they can pass these on to their children. In the case of the Jordanian family, it was a disorder called Leigh Syndrome that would have proved fatal to any baby conceived.
Scientists have devised a number of ways to circumvent this problem.

The US team, who travelled to Mexico to carry out the procedure because there are no laws there that prohibit it, used a method that takes all the vital DNA from the mother’s egg plus healthy mitochondria from a donor egg to create a healthy new egg that can be fertilised with the father’s sperm.

Their technique uses a healthy donor egg to provide healthy mitochondria.

The result is a baby with 0.1% of their DNA from the donor (mitochondrial DNA) and all the genetic code for things like hair and eye colour from the mother and father.

1) Eggs from a mother with damaged mitochondria and a donor with healthy mitochondria are collected 2) The majority of the genetic material is removed from both eggs 3) The mother’s genetic material is inserted into the donor egg, which can be fertilised by sperm.

The UK has already passed laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.

Deal Colonel

Materials programmed to shape shift
By Paul Rincon
Science editor, BBC News website

Image caption Scientists have pre-programmed materials to transform their shape.
Scientists have pre-programmed materials to change their shape over time.

Previous shape-shifting materials have needed some external trigger to tell them to transform, like light or heat.

Now, a US-based team has encoded a sequence of shape transformations into the very substance of a polymer, with each change occurring at a pre-determined time.

Details appear in Nature Communications journal.

The principles could be applied in implants that deliver medicine from within the human body and the technology could also see use in heavy industry.

Professor Sergei Sheiko from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues introduced two types of chemical bond to their polymer: permanent bonds and dynamic (or reversible) bonds.

The permanent bonds store the material’s final shape, while the dynamic bonds control how quickly it can reach this shape.

Prof Sheiko said there were several parameters in the material which, when adjusted, allowed the scientists to control the changes.

“One is the strength of the individual bond – or the energy of dissociation of the individual bond. The other is the concentration of these bonds,” he explained.

“There is a third parameter: several individual hydrogen bonds (dynamic bonds) can form a cluster. This cluster of hydrogen bonds can then form stronger cross-links.”

In bloom

As a proof of concept, the team designed a synthetic flower which “bloomed” in a pre-programmed fashion.

“We wanted to make the concept more explicit. So there are plenty of examples in nature, like flowers, which change their shape with time,” Prof Sheiko told BBC News.

“One of the advantages of our technology is that you can assemble a complex shape of individual pieces like these petals. Usually shape memory materials are just made up of one chunk that changes shape.”

He said each of the pieces could be programmed individually, with different timings.

Asked how precisely the timing of the changes could be controlled, Prof Sheiko explained: "We cannot control accurately between 20 and 21 seconds. But we can control between 20 and 60 seconds, two minutes and five minutes.

“We can control [the shape changes] pretty accurately on a scale of minutes and hours.”

Potential applications include drug delivery systems, which allow medicines to be released within the body according to a specific timescale.

“People want a material that changes shape without a stimulus. The reason is very practical: there is often no way to apply one.

“In the body, for example, it is pitch black inside and the temperature is super-stable. Our bodies work very hard to maintain a constant temperature. It’s a similar situation in space, or down an oil borehole.”

Prof Sheiko said his team had been asked about the possibility of producing a smart cement for the oil and gas industry. This could be poured down a borehole but would remain liquid for a while before setting at a specified time.

He explained: “It’s a very interesting challenge indeed, to design materials that would change their properties – which could be colour, shape, density, or mechanical properties – simply as a function of time.”


@Spock You don’t want see this

Deal Lieutenant

Hell !!! They spoilt the tag line… “Hum Do Hamare Do” …

Deal Colonel

This year’s Nobel prize for medicine has gone to a Japanese scientist Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his research on autophagy. Autophagy means to “self eat”. In other words, the process by which the human body eats it own damaged cells and unused proteins. Autophagy is a natural process and also one which occurs in cases of starvation. The failure of autophagy is one of the main reasons for accumulation of damaged cells which eventually leads to various diseases in the body. Autophagy is important to prevent/fight cancer and also plays a vital role in degrading and ‘consuming’ cells infected by bacteria and viruses.

I have to observe here that ancient India had recommended a practice of fasting (Ekadasi) one day in a fortnight. Many of us religiously follow this practice to this day as a penance for spiritual progress without any idea of the biological and therapeutic benefits of this practice. Through this process of fasting induced autophagy, our body repaired its damaged and degenerated cells or used up the proteins of the damaged cells for its survival.

Whenever modern science conquers a frontier in any field, it somehow relates back to a quaint spiritual practice followed in India for generations.

A day in a fortnight spent in prayer and divine contemplation was a tonic for the mind and soul while the practice of fasting ensured that the body would heal and rejuvenate itself.

Clearly, our ancients believed in a process of holistic healing of both the body and the mind. They were able to, quite remarkably, connect the yearning for spiritual progress in a human being with the biological necessity of the human body. One cannot but marvel, and bow our heads with admiration and reverence, at their wisdom and deep scientific understanding of the body and the mind.

Deal Cadet

Bad news for Sixth Day conservatives
Good news to eradicate Genetic diseases like Huntingtons.


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