In a revolutionary world first, the first ever baby has been born using the controversial “three-parent” technique.
This technique, which has only been approved in the UK, means that the child has DNA from three parents, and can be used (as was the case here) to avoid a deadly genetic condition being passed down from the mother.
Essentially, since the mitochondrial DNA is only ever passed down by women, the technique replaces the faulty mitochondrial DNA from the mother from another woman during the IVF process.
The Jordianian couple in question sought help from a US-based team in Mexico due to the mother carrying Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder of the nervous system that’s passed down via mitochondrial DNA.
While the boy’s mother is healthy, around a quarter of her mitochondria carry Leigh syndrome genes, and after 20 years of trying for a child two of her children have died from the condition.
The exact process that the couple chose was the removal of the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs, which was then inserted into a donor egg that had had its own nucleus removed. The resulting egg – with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor – was then fertilised with the father’s sperm. This revolutionary work was done by John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center.
At the moment, the “three parent” technique is not legal in the US, but there are advocates pushing for this to be revoked.
Dusko Ilic at King’s College London, who wasn’t involved in the work said of the technique: “This is great news and a huge deal. It’s revolutionary.”
Smeets from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who also wasn’t involved with the technique, said that the technique needs to be rigorously tested before it’s deemed safe.
Smeets said: “We need to wait for more births, and to carefully judge them.”