The World's First Baby With Three Parents Has Been Born

Doctors led by John Zhang at the New Hope Fertility Center in NY made a decision to attempt the controversial technique in the hope that it would give the couple a healthy child.

But the birth of the child, whose Jordanian parents were treated by a US-based team in Mexico, should fast-forward progress around the world, say embryologists.

The mother of the child carried genes for the fatal nervous system disorder, Leigh Syndrome.

An outside expert, David Clancy, a lecturer at Lancaster University, recalled that experiments in monkeys have shown that maternal mitochondrial DNA can expand from low levels to significantly higher levels, "which would allow disease to again be transmitted, so we must expect the possibility in humans".

The gene for the disease is found in DNA in the mitochondria, the powerhouse of a cell that provides energy.

Ten years after the couple married, Ibtisam became pregnant but she lost the baby in the first of four miscarriages. The couple previously lost two kids owing to this disorder, so they sought help of the New Hope Fertility Center in NY. The three-parent-baby IVF technique replaces a mother's mitochondrial DNA with that from a donor; it has no effect on appearance or personality traits.

To ensure the baby boy was free from the genetic condition that his mother carries in her genes.

The technique which Zhang used was spindle nuclear transfer, while the technique approved in United Kingdom is the pronuclear transfer that involves the fertilisation of both the mother's and egg donor's egg with the father's semen.

Each nucleus of the fertilised eggs is then removed before they divide into early-stage embryos. In this method, doctors remove the nucleus from one of the mother's eggs and insert it into a donor egg that has had its own nucleus removed.

Using this approach, they created five embryos, out of which one developed normally. This embryo was then implanted into the mother. The team told New Scientist they did it in Mexico because "there are no rules", unlike in the USA, where it is still up for consideration but hasn't yet been approved. However, some babies went on to develop mental disorders, leading to a ban on the technique.

He insists proceeding with the technique was the ethical choice "to save lives". The details of the research and findings, regarding the procedure, will be discussed at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City during October. Several people were born using the procedure before it was halted. Hopefully, this will tame the more zealous critics, accelerate the field, and we will witness soon a birth of the first mitochondrial donation baby in the United Kingdom'.

"Congratulations to this team and all those hoping to help these unfortunate families; and we should proceed with caution and due regulation.' While Dusko Ilic said the breakthrough was important, he said 'some questions remain".


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