The world’s first baby was born from a new procedure that combines the DNA of three people. The baby was born in Mexico.
The baby was born on 6 April 2016 after his Jordanian parents travelled to Mexico where they were cared for by US fertility specialists.
The baby was born using the new and controversial technology, called mitochondrial donation, which incorporates DNA from three persons.
The five-month-old boy has the usual DNA from his parents, and a small amount of genetic code from a donor.
How the treatment was done?
• The baby’s mother carried genes for the fatal Leigh Syndrome, which harms the developing nervous system.
• The faults affect the DNA in mitochondria, the tiny battery-like structures that provide cells with energy, and are passed down from mother to child.
• A team of doctors, led by John Zhang, decided to attempt the controversial procedure of mitochondrial transfer in the hope that it would give the couple a healthy child.
• The doctors took the nucleus from one of the woman’s eggs and inserted it into a healthy donor’s egg that had had its own nucleus removed. Then, the egg was fertilised with the husband’s sperm.
• The team created five embryos but only one developed normally. This was implanted into the mother and the baby was born nine months later.
What is Mitochondrial Donation?
• Mitochondrial donation is a special form of in vitro fertilization in which the future baby's mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party.
• The two most common techniques in mitochondrial donation are pronuclear transfer and maternal spindle transfer.
• Due to the uncharted nature of producing a child with 3 sources of DNA, this subject is currently quite contentious in the field of bioethics, as is the case with many other gene therapies.
• The treatment was legalised in the UK in 2015 but so far no other country has introduced laws to permit the technique.
• In February 2016, a report was issued by the U.S. Food and Drug administration declaring that further research into mitochondrial donation is ethically permissible.
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