A Child With Three Biological Parents Was Just Born
A technique that could revolutionise and change human reproduction.
BY DAVID GROSSMAN | Sep 30, 2016 | Fitness & Health
A child with three biological parents has just been born for the first time. Even though the procedure was spearheaded by a doctor based in New York, the child was born in Mexico due to regulations in the United States.
John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Centre in New York was the lead doctor in the birth, which came about using a process known as spindle nuclear transfer, in which parts of the nuclei of the mother's eggs are placed into a surrogate donor's eggs that are then fertilised with sperm. Scientists work to make sure the child is born male to eliminate the chance of the donor's DNA—which could be passed on through maternal lineage—is not passed on in future generations. On his blog, Zhang says that he believes "this technique will revolutionise and change human reproduction."
Described by a 2014 paper as a "novel reproductive option for the prevention of inherited mitochondrial diseases," spindle nuclear transfer is meant to allow mothers with certain diseases to give birth to healthy children. Mitochondrial diseases effect somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 women yearly in the United States. Spindle nuclear transfer is not the only method of conception for those with mitochondrial diseases, but it was the preferred option of the couple attempting to conceive in this case due to their religious convictions as Muslims. They opposed to the destruction of embryos, an outcome of other methods.
New Scientist, which broke the story, describes the couple as having attempted to conceive for twenty years with four miscarriages. The mother is a genetic carrier for Leigh syndrome, "a severe neurological disorder that usually becomes apparent in the first year of life," according to the U.S National Library of Science.
The United States has effectively banned the genetic engineering of babies, which forced Zhang to look to Mexico, a place he describes as having "no rules" with regard to this process. He insists it was an ethical procedure and plans to defend it at upcoming conferences in both Utah and New York. "To save lives," he says, "is the ethical thing to do.”
From: Popular Mechanics.