News from the PRBB-PCB Animal Facility Alliance
The company Embryotools has successfully concluded tests on animal models to validate an innovative assisted reproduction technique known as Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST). This new technique is a mitochondrial replacement therapy which groups of leading scientists from around the world are studying for the prevention of mitochondrial diseases, which are transmitted maternally and currently have no treatment. Embryotools has been working on this project for over three years in partnership with the PCB-PRBB Animal Facility Alliance at the location of the Science Park of Barcelona (PCB) and the company Reprogenetics UK, located at Oxford University.
Maternal Spindle Transfer uses gametes from three people—two women and one male—which is why it belongs to the group of therapies commonly known as ‘three parent baby’ techniques, a term which, according to Dr Nuno Costa-Borges, scientific director of Embryotools, does not please the scientific community: “Although gametes are needed from one man and two different women (the patient and the donor), the nuclear or genomic DNA, responsible for the vast majority of phenotypical characteristics of the future baby, would come from the biological mother and father, as in a normal fertilisation process. The donor would only contribute the mitochondrial DNA, which codifies just 37 genes and represents less than 1% of the human DNA. This mitochondrial DNA from the donor would not be transmitted to the following generations if the resulting baby were male, which is why it is not considered to affect the germinal line”.
According to Jesús González, veterinarian supervisor in animal welfare and head of Services and Projects of the PCB-PRBB Animal Facility Alliance, “We have developed a very extensive study to verify and demonstrate the safety of the technique. The mice generated show to be perfectly normal and fertile. Furthermore, their offspring was duly assessed through various generations, without any alteration in behaviour or health being observed”.
PRBB-PCB Animal facility Alliance website (in Catalan)