In what experts are calling a “revolutionary” medical event, the first baby with DNA from three parents has been born using a controversial technique meant to help people who carry genes for fatal rare diseases.
The baby was born on April 6, 2016, and he appears healthy.
The procedure was done by U.S. fertility specialists working in Mexico, where there are no laws prohibiting such methods. His mother carries a genetic mutation for Leigh syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that usually becomes apparent in the first year of life and is generally fatal.
She had four miscarriages and two children who died from Leigh syndrome, one at age six and one at eight months. Symptoms of Leigh disease usually progress rapidly and lead to generalized weakness, a lack of muscle tone and a buildup of lactic acid in the body, which can cause respiratory and kidney problems.
The procedure, called spindle nuclear transfer, involves removing the healthy nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs and transferring it to a donor egg which had had its nucleus removed. The resulting egg – with nuclear DNA from the mother and mitochondrial DNA from a donor – was then fertilized with the father’s sperm.
Safety concerns remain due to a failed attempt in the 1990s, when doctors injected mitochondrial DNA from a donor into another woman’s egg, along with sperm from her partner. Some of the babies went on to develop genetic disorders, and the technique was banned in the US.
Some churches, both Protestant and Catholic, are opposed to the procedure on religious and ethical grounds. There are also fears that we could soon be looking at a world that wants designer babies. Eye color, skin color, and gender are all simply DNA options, what options will you pick to give your child the best opportunities in life?