Through pioneering clinical research, Embryotools, based in the Barcelona Science Park, and Institute of Life in Athens have achieveg birth of the world’s first healthy baby through the pioneering Maternal Spindle Transfer method to solve infertility problems. This technique was implemented by the Greek IVF center and Spanish research center to address fertility issues associated with multiple in vitro fertilization (IVF) failures caused by cytoplasmic dysfunction of the oocytes or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases.
Boy, healthy, Greek and weighing 2,960 grams. This is the first baby in the world born thanks to the application, due to infertility, of a new technique called Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST), which will revolutionize assisted reproduction.
The baby was born at 07:46 a.m. yesterday, 9 April 2019, to a 32-year-old Greek woman with a history of multiple IVF failures and poor oocyte quality. The mother and infant are both in good health.
This scientific breakthrough, that will shape the future of assisted reproduction, has been achieved after 5 years of basic research at Embryotools in the Barcelona Science Park and two and half years of pioneering clinical validation at the Institute of Life’s laboratory in Greece.
The co-founder and scientific director of Embryotools, Dr. Nuno Costa-Borges, noted:“The completely successful and safe implementation of the Maternal Spindle Transfer method – for the first time in medical history – is a revolution in assisted reproduction. I want to thank and congratulate the whole European team that made it possible, and especially the Institute of Life IVF Center. Our excellent collaboration and this exceptional result will help countless women to realise their dream of becoming mothers with their own genetic material.”
“The President of the Institute of Life, Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, made the following statement: “Today, for the first time in the world, a woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality. As Greek scientists, we are very proud to announce an international innovation in assisted reproduction, and we are now in a position to make it possible for women with multiple IVF failures or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases to have a healthy child. At the Institute of Life, our commitment is to continue to help even more couples facing fertility issues to have children with their own DNA, without having recourse to egg donors.”
A method that preserves genetic inheritance
Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) is one of the mitochondrial replacement therapies that has been researched in recent years with a view to preventing diseases affecting the mitochondria, cell organelles found in the cell’s cytoplasm which provide the cell with energy. The technique consists of extracting the meiotic spindle (nucleus) from an unfertilised oocyte of a patient with mutations in their mitochondrial DNA, and placing it in the ovum of a donor with healthy mitochondria, from which the original nucleus has already being removed. Finally, the resulting oocyte is fertilised with the sperm of the male partner, fully preserving the genetic material of the woman who wants to reproduce.
Embryotools’ researchers are open to the possibility of conducting a trial of this nature in Spain, but the project is not immediately feasible. Law 14/2006, of 26 May, on assisted human reproduction techniques, does not specifically prohibit this technique, but a list of authorised practices is provided in an annex, with a special permit being required for any techniques that do not feature in this list The first step will therefore be to obtain approval from the Spanish Committee of Assisted Human Reproduction.
“Maternal Spindle Transfer has enormous potential. However, even though a baby has already been born through this technique, it is still an experimental procedure. Investigations need to be continued with care and without rushing in order to complete all the necessary steps that demonstrate that it is a safe technique”, remarked Dr Gloria Calderón, co-founder and director of Embryotools