This year, on April 6th, a baby was born with three genetic parents: two mothers and one father. Thanks to a revolutionary technique, two egg cells of two different women were combined into one new healthy egg cell. After living for almost six months on this planet, the boy seems to be healthy.
For almost 20 years the Jordanian parents of the boy tried to have a baby. Within these years, the couple got two children that unfortunately died after birth, due to a fatal disorder in the nervous systems called Leigh syndrome. This syndrome is expressed in the DNA of the mitochondria of the mother. The couple found a IVF clinic in New York to request the three parents technique. The doctor and parents flew to Mexico were there is no legislation concerning genetic modification in embryos. Here the doctor executed a technique using a donor egg cell with healthy mitochondria and replacing the nucleus of the donor egg cel with the nucleus of the mother. This manipulated egg cel was fertilized and through IVF placed into the mother womb.
Today the couple has a five months old son. The boy looks like its parents, though his mitochondria contain the DNA of the donor.
Developments like these can not pass without raising an enormous ethical discussion. On January 3rd, the UK government was the first one to accept a law to allow mitochondria replacement; giving over 152 mothers with similar syndromes in the country the possibility to get a child.
From the health perspective, genetic modification seems in place, though the boundaries are vague. Scientists fear the so-called designed babies, like the speculative transfigurations envisioned by Agi Haines.
Source: New scientist. Images: New scientist, Medical Post Today
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