A Baby With 3 Parents Has Been Born. These Are the Dangers You Should Know About.
Genetic manipulation resulting in embryos that incorporate DNA from three adults has been in laboratory experimentation phases since the 1990s, but now the first birth of a baby with genetic material from three parents has been reported. Multiple methods of creating three-parent embryos exist (a detailed explanation can be found here).
In this case, New York City fertility specialist Dr. John Zhang used a method called “maternal spindle transfer” to create five such human embryos—one of which was transferred to a womb and resulted in live birth. While the baby is now a few months old, New Scientist didn’t break the news until September.
The overall goal, sometimes called “mitochondrial replacement technique (MRT),” is to replace genetically defective mitochondria—the organelles responsible for generating energy and metabolic function of the cell—in a woman’s egg with healthy mitochondria using a female donor egg.
Genetically defective mitochondria can cause serious, even lethal, health problems. But MRT procedures actually transfer a nucleus, repository of the majority of the cell’s genetic material (which means they use human cloning technology), into the presence of genetically different mitochondria.
“3-Parent Embryos” and “Gene-Edited Babies”: A Visual Aid
As both international and national debates continue over the ethics and science of “three-parent embryos” and “genetically modified embryos”, Dr. David A. Prentice, Ph.D. of the Charlotte Lozier Institute has prepared a series of visual primers for the general public, illustrating the various methods by which germline genetic engineering is used to create genetically modified human embryos.
To view as one PDF document, see “Genetically Modified Human Embryos and GM Children.”
Genetically Modified Human
Embryos and GM Children Proposals of various types have been made that involve genetic modification of human embryos. While proponents all claim that these genetic modifications are for treating disease, in fact they are all aimed at creating new, genetically-modified children whom they hope will not have disease. All of the proposals involve “germline” or “inheritable” genetic modification, i.e., the genetic changes affect not only the individual, but can be passed down to future generations. Ooplasm TransferInjection of ooplasm from a donor egg (Mom 2) into Mom 1’s unfertilized egg prior to fertilization in vitro. Mitochondria are transferred as part of the donor ooplasm, resulting in offspring who carry genetic material from three separate individuals—nuclear genetic Mom 1 and father, and the mitochondria/ooplasm genetic donor (Mom 2). The newly-created embryo is a “3-parent embryo”.
As of June 2015, this technique had been used in the creation of human embryos