The World’s first three parent baby has been born in Mexico with the help a controversial new fertility technique that incorporates DNA from three people.
The ‘three-parent’ technique allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy babies and this particular baby, born to Jordanian parents is already five months old and very healthy.
The boy’s mother carries genes for a disorder known as Leigh syndrome, this fatal disorder affects the nervous system of developing infants. Genes for the disease reside in DNA in the mitochondria, which provide energy for our cells. The parents of the baby, a Jordanian couple, had been trying to start a family for almost 20 years and have suffered four miscarriages also losing two kids to the disease.
The couple sought the help of John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Centre in New York City for a baby that would be genetically related to them but would not carry the inherited disease. Zhang used an approach called spindle nuclear transfer removing the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and inserting it into a donor egg that had its own nucleus removed. This egg containing nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor was then fertilised with the father’s sperm.
The New Hope Fertility Centre used this approach to create five embryos, though only one of the five developed normally. The embryo was then implanted in the mother and the child was born nine months later on April 6, 2016.
The United States has not approved any three-parent method for fertility purposes, so Zhang had to go to Mexico where he was quoted as saying “there are no rules.”
Tests on the boy’s mitochondria have found that less than one percent carry the mutation. This should be too low to cause any problems as it is generally believed to take around 18 per cent of mitochondria to be affected before problems start, researchers said.
Zhang and his team are expected to describe their method at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City, Utah in October.