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Friday 28 April 2017

'Three-person IVF’ allows infertile couple to have baby in world first

In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Getty Images/Science Photo Libra
In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Katie Forster

A new type of ‘three-person IVF’ has allowed a previously infertile couple to have a baby in a world first.

The baby boy was born in Ukraine using a technique known as pronuclear transfer, a method experts have called “highly experimental”.

Doctors in Kiev fertilised the mother’s egg with the father’s sperm, and then placed the combined cells into an egg donated by a third woman, reported The Times.

‘Three-person IVF’ has previously been used to prevent babies from inheriting serious genetic disorders, but this is the first time it has been used to treat infertility.

Valery Zukin, director of Kiev’s Nadiya clinic, told The Times the technique could in future be used to help woman in their 40s give birth using their own eggs.

However, scientists have warned the treatment has not been scientifically tested and as such could be unsafe or give women false hope.

“It’s like the opening of a new era,” said Dr Zukin, adding the treatment could help women who experience a condition known as embryo arrest, which affects around one in 150 IVF patients and causes embryos to stop growing before they can be implanted.

Dr Zukin shared a video on his Facebook page yesterday of an IVF fertilisation in progress, with congratulatory messages posted underneath by his contacts.

"Pronuclear transfer is highly experimental and has not been properly evaluated or scientifically proven,” said Professor Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society, reported the BBC.

"We would be extremely cautious about adopting this approach to improve IVF outcomes."

The baby has inherited its genetic identity from its parents, with a tiny amount of DNA from the second woman.

He was born on January 5 to a 34-year-old woman and her partner, the clinic announced yesterday.

The couple had been trying to conceive for more than a decade with no success, despite having undergone four failed cycles of IVF.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved the use of ‘three-person IVF’ to prevent genetic diseases in the UK last month in a historic decision giving the controversial new fertility method the final go-ahead.

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