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  • A Healthy Baby Is Said to Have Been Conceived Using DNA From 3 People

    Assisted reproductive technology has come a long way.
    by Rachel Perez .
A Healthy Baby Is Said to Have Been Conceived Using DNA From 3 People
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Despite the assisted reproductive technologies (ART) we have today, from intrauterine insemination (IUI) to in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are still couples who have these costly procedures only to be heartbroken when it fails, not just once but repeatedly. That's the risk of ART — it's never 100% guaranteed. But the good news is the medical and scientific community are working continuously to improve the success rate.

    The Institute of Life IVF Center in Greece and Embryotools in Spain announced the birth of what it claims to be the world’s first baby conceived using the DNA of three people through pioneering technology called the "Maternal Spindle Technology." The healthy baby boy was born on April 9, 2019, weighing a little over six pounds, to a 32-year-old woman who has had several failed IVF attempts.

    “For the first time in the world, a woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality,” Dr. Panagoitis Psathas, president of the Institute of life said in a press statement. “We are now in a position to make it possible for women with multiple IVF failures or rare mitochondrial genetic disease to have a healthy child,” he added.

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    Time explained the procedure: “In the procedure, the grouped-together DNA from a mother’s egg was removed and placed inside a donor egg from another woman, which had been emptied of its DNA. The donor’s egg with the mother’s genes was then fertilized and developed into an embryo that was transferred for pregnancy.

    “The technique takes advantage of the fact that something in the mother’s egg was preventing a viable embryo from forming when it was fertilized. Any number of factors could contribute to the problem, including poor quality of the egg to deficiencies in essential factors that a fertilized egg needs to begin dividing into an embryo.”

    The maternal spindle transfer method was developed by Embryotools after five years. It involves replacing the mitochondria of human egg cells but still preserving the mother’s genetic material.

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    Mitochondrial disease is one of the possible reasons for unsuccessful IVF procedures, along with having poor, unhealthy eggs.

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    The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and one of its functions involves copying and dividing its DNA, which happens the moment an egg is fertilized. Studies have backed the idea that the mitochondria help eggs get fertilized and grow into healthy embryos. The successful birth of the three-parent baby suggests there may be substance to this hypothesis.

    There has been one other case reported in Ukraine, wherein the mother had a mutated case of mitochondrial disease. The U.K. had given a similar technology approval in 2015 to address reproductive issues that involved mitochondrial disease, which can lead to brain damage, muscle wasting, heart failure, and blindness.

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