We cannot draw any firm conclusions about MRT for infertility from the trial conducted by Wells and his colleagues. To begin with, it is small. And, importantly, there was no control group. We must directly compare the results of MRT with those achieved using standard IVF in a similar group of people.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov, an embryo biologist at Oregon Health & Science University, who is collaborating with Wells, plans to run a larger trial of 400 volunteers to get a better idea of how well the MRT treatment works. of infertility, if any.
The takeaway is a bit of a mixed bag. There is concern that MRT may not prevent mitochondrial diseases and put children at risk of severe disease. But if MRT tests on people struggling to conceive can tell us more about how infertility occurs and how to treat it, it has a lot of potential.
Read more from the Tech Review archive
You can read more about the MRT trial, and the two relapse cases, in this piece, published on Thursday.
Karen Weintraub covers the rise and fall of the Augment technique at OvaScience. Both of these pieces were published in the same month, which gives you some idea of how fast this field is moving.
MRT is also being explored as a way to help trans men use their eggs to have children. An early study suggests that the method may help create healthier embryos from their eggs, as I reported last year.
Children born from MRT technically have three genetic parents. There are other technologies on the horizon that could allow us to create children with four genetic parents, or none at all. I explored what this means for our understanding of parenting in a previous edition of The Checkup.
While fertility clinics are trying to find ways to create healthy embryos for use in IVF, a biotech company is looking for ways to create synthetic embryos for research, as my colleague Antonio Regalado reported in August. Embryos are grown in “mechanical wombs,” in case you’re wondering.