Mary Herbert

A groundbreaking way to stop mitochondrial disease

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About Mary Herbert

Fertility expert Mary Herbert and her team are preventing the transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease using nuclear transplantation. This cutting edge mechanism, commonly referred to as three-person IVF, has the potential to prevent transmission of devastating disease from mother to child. Mary’s work has also been critical in the development of a UK law change that permits these new techniques to be offered in clinical treatment. In addition to mitochondrial disease, Mary’s research focuses on the underlying causes of infertility, miscarriage and birth defects in older women. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and a member of the scientific advisory board for the Association of Clinical Embryologists in the UK. Mary is currently a Professor of Reproductive Biology at Newcastle University, and Scientific Director at Newcastle Fertility Centre.

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About This Talk

For many parents, the decision of when and if they will have a baby is influenced by biological factors outside of their control. Those suffering from inheritable genetic conditions face an especially difficult decision in terms of whether or not to conceive a child. For instance, a mother with mutated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) faces an increased possibility that her child will develop an incurable disease with devastating symptoms such as seizures, developmental delay, or organ failure.

University of Newcastle professor Mary Herbert provides parents with a new solution that helps to ensure that the mutations in a mother’s affected mtDNA isn’t passed on to her child. Watch Mary's 2017 TEDMED Talk to see how she is pushing the limits of our understanding of reproduction and looking toward a future where certain mitochondrial diseases can be eliminated from a family for generations to come. 

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