First ‘three person baby’ born using new method

A human egg injected with a micro-needle that contains a single spermImage copyright
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The world’s first baby has been born using a new “three person” fertility technique, New Scientist reveals.

The five-month-old boy has the usual DNA from his mum and dad, plus a tiny bit of genetic code from a donor.

US doctors took the unprecedented step to ensure the baby boy would be free of a genetic condition that his Jordanian mother carries in her genes.

Experts say the move heralds a new era in medicine and could help other families with rare genetic conditions.

But they warn that rigorous checks of this new and controversial technology, called mitochondrial donation, are needed.

It’s not the first time scientists have created babies that have DNA from three people – that breakthrough began in the late 1990s – but it is an entirely new and significant method.

Three person babies

Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside nearly every cell of the body that convert food into usable energy.

Some women carry genetic defects in mitochondria and they can pass these on to their children. In the case of the Jordanian family, it was a disorder called Leigh Syndrome that would have proved fatal to any baby conceived.

Scientists have devised a number of ways to circumvent this problem.

The US team, who travelled to Mexico to carry out the procedure because there are no laws there that prohibit it, used a method that repairs the mitochondria in the mother’s egg before fertilising it in the lab with the father’s sperm.

Their technique uses a healthy donor egg to provide healthy mitochondria.

The result is a baby with 0.1% of their DNA from the donor (mitochondrial DNA) and all the genetic code for things like hair and eye colour from the mother and father.

Image caption

1) Eggs from a mother with damaged mitochondria and a donor with healthy mitochondria are collected 2) The majority of the genetic material is removed from both eggs 3) The mother’s genetic material is inserted into the donor egg, which can be fertilised by sperm.

First ‘three person baby’ born using new method

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