A five-month-old boy is the first baby to be born using a controversial new ‘three-parent’ technique. That means this baby contains DNA from three parents – something which in this case allowed him to avoid having a deadly genetic condition passed down by his mother.
The technique – which was legalised in the UK last year – allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy babies, by replacing a mother’s faulty mitochondrial DNA with another woman’s during the IVF process.
In this latest case, the new technique was used on Jordanian parents by a US-based team in Mexico. The boy’s mother carries Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder of the nervous system that’s passed down through mitochondrial DNA.
While the baby’s mother is healthy, around a quarter of her mitochondria carried the faulty Leigh syndrome genes, and, after almost 20 years of trying for a baby, her only two children had died from the condition, leading her to reach out to John Zhang at the New Hope Fertility Centre in New York. This was all carried out in Mexico where “there are no rules” about three-parent babies, Zhang said.