Controversial ‘three-person’ baby born in Greece

April 12, 2019

In “medical history” which could help infertile couples around the world, Spanish and Greek fertility doctors have genetically engineered a baby from three people bar a woman’s infertility. The baby boy was born a healthy 2.9kg (6lbs). The 32-year-old Greek woman had endured four unsuccessful cycles of IVF previously, but her son now has a tiny amount of his genetic makeup from a donor woman.

The Greek team worked with Spanish Embryotools Centre on the trial, which has also reported that eight other embryos are ready to be implanted. Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life in Athens, was proud to announce the international innovation in assisted reproduction, “It is now possible for women with multiple IVF failures or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases to have a healthy child.”

The experimental form of IVF was developed to overcome deadly mitochondrial diseases passed down from mother to baby – using genetic information from the father and mother and another donor egg. Although mitochondria have their own DNA, combining the mother’s DNA with a donor’s mitochondria could prevent defective mitochondria in mitochondrial diseases.

While there is untested speculation that mitochondria may have a role in a successful pregnancy, some English experts say the recent procedure should not have taken place as it raises ethical questions.

In February 2018, doctors in Newcastle who pioneered the technology were given permission on two attempts to create the UK’s first three-person babies, both in families with rare mitochondrial diseases, but other doctors argued that the two applications – fertility and disease prevention – are morally different.

Tim Child, of Oxford University and Medical Director of The Fertility Partnership, has noted no proven need for the patient to have her genetic material removed and transferred into the eggs of a donor, which may otherwise be acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease – the patient may have still conceived with further standard IVF treatment.”

Regardless, some fertility doctors believe the safe technology could increase the odds of IVF in future.


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