(NaturalNews) U.S. scientists recently announced the birth of a baby containing DNA from three different people in an article in New Scientist. They will present the details of the new procedure they used at the October meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
The procedure, which is illegal in the United States, was performed in Mexico.
It is not the first time that scientists have used biotechnology to produce a child with DNA from three separate people, but the researchers claim that their new technique is significantly more precise, and has major implications for the prevention of genetic disease.
Preventing genetic disease
The fertility procedure was performed on a couple in which the woman was a carrier for a fatal genetic disorder known as Leigh Syndrome. The syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder that produces loss of movement and mental function, ending with death by early childhood.
Because the woman carried the mutation in her mitochondria – the structures inside cells that provide them with energy – any child she bore would contract and die from the disease. The couple had already experienced four miscarriages and had two children die from Leigh Syndrome, one at eight months and one at six years.
Mitochondria carry their own DNA, which is separate from the DNA found in the nucleus of the cell. This DNA is inherited only from the mother. Thus, a mitochondrial mutation will be passed down to all of a woman's children.
Leigh Syndrome can be inherited via either mitochondrial or nuclear DNA.
In order to bypass the genetic death sentence, researchers used a new method in which an egg cell was emptied of its mitochondria and its genetic material. That egg was then implanted with nuclear DNA from the mother's egg, and healthy mitochondria from a donor egg. This new, hybrid egg was then implanted with the father's sperm.
The researchers created five eggs by this new technique, but only one was viable. That one was implanted and led to a viable pregnancy and live birth. An estimated 0.1 percent of the child's DNA comes from the donor, and controls only the functioning of the mitochondria. All other DNA comes from the two parents.