Life has officially become a science fiction movie. Apparently, the first baby has been born from a controversial new technique that combines DNA from three people—the mother, the father, and an egg donor–according to a research summary published by the journal Fertility & Sterility. Scientists are currently scheduled to present details at a meeting next month in Salt Lake City in regards to the baby boy.
So, what exactly was the point of using this new technique? To prevent the child from inheriting a fatal genetic disease from his mother, who had previously lost two children as a result of the illness. The baby was born five months ago to Jordanian parents who were being treated in Mexico by a team led by Dr. John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York.
The United States does not approve of the technique, according to Zhang, who told New Scientist that this is why they performed the procedure in Mexico where “there are no rules,” stating:
“To save lives is the ethical thing to do.”
According to Zhang, the mother’s DNA carries the gene for Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that is usually fatal within a few years of birth–her previous two children had passed away at 8 months and 6 years.
So, how does the procedure actually work?
The technique involves removing some of the mother’s DNA from an egg, effectively taking out the disease-causing DNA. The healthy DNA is then inserted into a donor’s egg, which is then fertilized. Thus, the baby inherited DNA from both parents and the egg donor. While the technique is sometimes said to produce “three-parent babies,” the DNA contribution from the donor egg is in reality miniscule.
While the 36-year-old woman’s pregnancy went as planned, critics say (and rightly so) children born through this method need to be tracked for decades to make sure they are healthy–and don’t have harmful side effects as a result of the procedure.
Despite this, Britain became the first country in the world to allow the creation of human embryos with this technique. Earlier this year in the U.S., government advisers stated that it’s ethical to test the approach in people if the initial experiments follow strict criteria–although the Food and Drug Administration is currently blocked from approving the testing by Congress.
In general, many feel it is much too early to call the birth a success–which makes sense because there is still so much we won’t know about the development of the child, until the child himself actually grows up.
Watch the video below about the birth: