Science Made It Possible For Three Parents To Have One Baby [VIDEO]By Mark Spencer, UniversityHerald Reporter
Gone is the traditional belief that it only takes genes from one man and one woman to get together and reproduce new life, not anymore.
A pioneering reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. John Zhang and his team, have given couples with a known history of genetic diseases, a new opportunity to raise a child through the conception of a 3-parent-baby. Last year, experts called it a revolutionary medical event when the first baby with DNA from three parents was born.
CBS News reported that the baby was conceived by employing a controversial technique meant to assist people who carry genes for fatal rare diseases. The controversial procedure 3-parent IVF was approved by U.K. lawmakers last year. To date, the procedure is not approved in the U.S.
When the couple approached him for help, it was found that the mother reportedly carries a genetic mutation for Leigh syndrome, characterized as a neurological disorder that becomes apparent in the first year of life and generally fatal.
Her DNA carries the gene for the disease, specifically in the mitochondria that powers cells. Previously, the mother suffered four miscarriages and had two children who died from Leigh syndrome. Children born with the disease rarely live more than six to seven years.
Zhang opted to try the 3-parent IVF technique to ensure that the mutation would not be passed along to the baby. 3-parent IVF involves one sperm and two different parts of two eggs. The parents were first treated by U.S. fertility specialists in Mexico, where there are no laws restricting such procedures.
The process, mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) also called a spindle nuclear transfer, involves removing the healthy nucleus from one of the mother's eggs and transferring it to a donor egg with its nucleus removed. The new egg hybrid containing the DNA of the mother and the mitochondrial DNA of the donor is then fertilized utilizing the father's sperm and implanted into the mother's womb.
Thus, the resulting embryo contained genetic material from three people, the mother, the egg donor and the father. The technique proved successful with the birth of a healthy male child on April 6, 2016.
Futurism reported that the U.K. is the leader in providing MRT. However, last year, the FDA approved MRT but with male embryos only. The reason is that mitochondrial disease would end with the male, citing that males cannot pass on harmful mitochondrial DNA to any potential offspring.
With Dr. Zhang's success, it is, therefore, terrifying for many that MRT might be exploited and evolve into eugenics and designer babies, similar to the movie "Gattaca." Meanwhile, a second baby was born recently in Ukraine using the same procedure.
The birth was controversial because of the baby's gender, a girl. It is somewhat troubling that science fiction is fast becoming science fact.