Genetic details of controversial ‘three-parent baby’ revealed

Apr 3, 2017

By Sara Reardon

When a US fertility clinic revealed last year that it had created a baby boy using a controversial technique that mixes DNA from three people, scientists were quick to raise the alarm. Some objected on ethical grounds, and others questioned the scientific claims made by the clinic’s leader, physician John Zhang.

Now, after months of intense debate and speculation, Zhang’s team has provided more details about the child’s conception, in a paper published on 3 April in Reproductive Biomedicine Online1. But major questions remain about the long-term health of the boy, and whether the experiment will ultimately advance reproductive medicine.

Techniques to create ‘three-parent babies’ seek to offer mothers a way to have a child without passing on metabolic diseases caused by faulty mitochondria, the structures that provide energy to cells. Researchers do this by exchanging the diseased mitochondria of a prospective mother with those of a healthy, unrelated donor: the ’third parent’.

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6 comments on “Genetic details of controversial ‘three-parent baby’ revealed

  • 1
    maria melo says:

    Lately I served as “tranlator” (in an emergency situation where no translator was notified), and it was a couple that used a Fertility Clinic in India (that´s quite a lot of these out there), and at some point the father of the child said “a mix of eggs” (his wife eggs and…, and I´ve asked about that, the baby could have three parents I thought by some medical procedure).

    I guess I am going to print this news and give it to our Attorney General.



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  • @OP – In this case, a team led by Zhang, who works at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City, removed the nucleus from a healthy donor egg and replaced it with a nucleus taken from the egg cell of a woman who carries a rare neurological disease called Leigh syndrome, leaving the donor’s healthy mitochondria intact.
    The scientists then fertilized the modified egg with the father’s sperm before implanting it into the mother’s uterus.
    The resulting baby was born in April 2016.Techniques to create ‘three-parent babies’ seek to offer mothers a way to have a child without passing on metabolic diseases caused by faulty mitochondria, the structures that provide energy to cells.
    Researchers do this by exchanging the diseased mitochondria of a prospective mother with those of a healthy, unrelated donor: the ’third parent’.

    This OP link is to a NATURE article.

    I put a link to a BBC article about similar work where Doctors in Newcastle England have been given the first UK licence to create babies from two women and one man.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/03/embryo-experiments-reveal-earliest-human-development-but-stir-ethical-debate/#li-comment-219784
    The team in Newcastle anticipates helping 25 couples every year.



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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39292381
    Doctors in Newcastle have been given the first UK licence to create babies from two women and one man, the fertility regulator says.

    The advanced form of IVF will be used to prevent children dying from genetic diseases.

    The team at the Newcastle Fertility Centre said it was “good news” and a “momentous day” for patients.

    And realistically expect the first child to be born in 2018 at the earliest.



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  • 4
    maria melo says:

    I´ve shared the link Alan4discussion post too, it is certainly important to the Public prossecutor (General Attorney), as I´ve noticed she keeps it.
    Perhaps Law will change soon (it changed a few months ago), but it keeps changing all the time.
    Thanks for the useful link.



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  • Perhaps Law will change soon (it changed a few months ago), but it
    keeps changing all the time.

    Laws about human genetics are made by a legislative body, a group of people voted into office by their constituents. That group are people usually have NO expertise in the field of genetics nor do the people who voted them into office. It is like the blind leading the blind. Unfortunately the basis for making decisions about a proposed law may often be based on fear rather than logic, knowledge, and understanding.



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  • cbrown #5
    Apr 26, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Laws about human genetics are made by a legislative body, a group of people voted into office by their constituents. That group are people usually have NO expertise in the field of genetics nor do the people who voted them into office.

    Fortunately in some countries, regions, or cities, where representative democracy is understood, committees of elected representatives, seek expert advice, or employ experts to assist in drafting legislation, before it is put to larger government bodies for votes and being established in law.

    http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/committees/select/

    These departmental committees have a minimum of 11 members, who decide upon the line of inquiry and then gather written and oral evidence. Findings are reported to the Commons, printed, and published on the Parliament website. The government then usually has 60 days to reply to the committee’s recommendations.

    Committees also have power to appoint specialist advisers; these are not permanent members of staff, but outside specialists paid by the day. They are often, but not always, academics, and are appointed either generally or to assist with particular inquiries. They support the clerk as the head of the committee’s staff.



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