Genetic engineering has become so advanced that it can create a baby with 3 biological parents.
In a flurry of controversy, a baby girl was born on January 5th this year, in Kiev in the Ukraine, who has the DNA of 3 separate parents. Another baby boy was born five months ago in New York who also has the genetic makeup of 3 different parents. Doctors and scientists appear to be starting to cross the boundaries of ethics to create designer children for desperate couples.
Doctors and scientists appear to be starting to cross the boundaries of ethics. They can now indulge in the use of genetic engineering to create designer children for desperate couples.
In a procedure that is banned in the US, a grief-stricken Jordanian husband and wife sought the assistance of the radical Dr. John Zhang from the New Hope Fertility Center in New York. He arranged for permission to carry out controversial human embryo manipulation in Mexico, to create a designer baby that would, he hoped, not die at a young age as the couple’s earlier children had – they had previously lost one at the age of 6, and another at the age of 8 months.
Dr. Zhang arranged for permission to carry out controversial human embryo manipulation in Mexico, to create a designer baby that would, he hoped, not die at a young age as the couple’s earlier children had. Previously, they had lost one at the age of 6, and another at the age of 8 months.
These children had suffered from a disease carried by the mother’s mitochondrial DNA called Leigh Syndrome, which is a rare and deadly genetic neurometabolic disorder. Dr. Zhang took the nuclear DNA out of the donor mother’s cell, which contained healthy mitochondria DNA, and transferred the nuclear DNA from the mother into that donor egg.
Mitochondrial DNA Inheritance
Dr. Zhang took the nuclear DNA out of the donor mother’s cell, which contained healthy mitochondrial DNA, and transferred the nuclear DNA from the mother into that donor egg.
The father’s sperm then fertilized it. It means that the child has traces of DNA that will remain from the donor mother, as well as both its parents.
The doctors deemed the procedure a success, and the baby is allegedly a healthy 5-month-old today.
It was a similar procedure that took place in Kiev, although the couple had been suffering from infertility and had no history of genetic diseases. Dr. Valery Zukin led a team at the Nadiya Clinic and performed the first pronuclear transfer in the world.
The team fertilized the mother’s egg with the father’s sperm, and after the genes had combined, they were transferred to the donor egg. It was an alternative option for this couple who had not had success with regular IVF treatments. The clinic has also claimed that there is another baby due to be born in March, that was created using the same technique.
Mixed Reactions in the Medical Community
There has been mixed reaction to the news. The medical community is concerned that this highly experimental procedure has been performed without supervision. They feel that it requires the existence of peer-reviewed studies to ensure its long-term success. Or at least consideration of the questions that are raised from the child’s perspective in regards to their thoughts and feelings about having 3 parents.
The President-Elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Dr. Richard J Paulson claims that mitochondrial DNA doesn’t define the looks or characteristics of a human. Therefore he shies away from saying that three parents are truly involved.
However, he is making a judgment that enters the realm of philosophy and morals. As a result, a pertinent question remains. Is it indeed merely the looks and characteristics of a human being that define a person?
The Role of Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA acts as the battery within cells – it produces the life force. So many ethical gray areas remain, which is why the US persists with a ban.
In other parts of the world, the procedure is not banned. However, the UK are theoretically hoping to start utilizing these methods to prevent diseases. But are yet to begin in practice.
In fact, the Ukraine are seeing this as just the beginning of a radically more successful in vitro fertilization technique. They hope that it will become a standard practice for those who don’t succeed with regular IVF. They claim that there are around 20 more couples signed up and waiting for the procedure.
So, is this a slippery slope that science is sliding down by beginning to normalize sinister genetic engineering? Or is this the miracle of life? Could this be evidence that science is moving forward into the future in a positive direction? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.