In a revolutionary medical event, the world’s first baby boy was born with DNA from three parents, including a mother, a father, and an egg donor.
The UK’s lawmakers were the first to approve the procedure, but approval in the US is still pending.
This controversial technique was invented to assist people who carry rare fatal genes to have children. In this first case, the mother involved had lost 2 children to Leigh syndrome and 4 to miscarriages because she carried a genetic mutation for the rare neurological disorder.
Her miracle baby is now almost 6 months old, born on the 6th of April 2016, and is reported to be in excellent health.
Where and how was the procedure done?
The couple was treated by Dr. John Zhang, a reproductive endocrinologist at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City. The procedure was performed by a team of scientists and fertility specialists in Mexico, where no laws have been established against it.
The team used the 3-parent IVF technique to minimize the risk of the genetic mutation being passed on to the baby, which seems to have been a complete success. Dr. Zhang has confirmed that less than 1% of the boy’s genes carry the mutation, which is reportedly too low to ever lead to the disease.
Scientists created five embryos from the genetic material of the mother, the father, and the egg donor, of which only one embryo turned out acceptable for implantation.
Dr. David Agus, a CBS News medical contributor, said: “If you look at the amount of DNA, it’s almost like it’s 2.001 parents rather than three. But it is DNA from three different people.”
Dr. Zhang also commented: “This is the very first time, at least in human reproduction, that the offspring are produced with three parties- one sperm and different parts of two eggs, so this is very revolutionary!”
What does it mean?
This procedure has the potential to help more families in the future, especially since being officially approved in the UK since February 2015.
Dr. Agus said that thousands of children are born with genetic defects every year and many of them succumb to horrible diseases, such as Leigh syndrome.
There are also many women who know that they have this particular mutation and therefore cannot give birth to healthy children, which makes this procedure a large beacon of hope for the future of their family life.
Dr. Zhang and his colleagues will present their case to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine at their annual meeting in Salt Lake City next month.
However, heated debates about ethics and the safety risks of the procedure are expected, even though scientists are optimistic about their results.
The last time that embryologists attempted to create a baby using the DNA from 3 people was in the 1990’s, but some of the babies went on to develop genetic disorders and at that time the technique was banned. This time, however, scientists look forward to a positive outcome and the possibilities that the future may hold.