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Published On: Thu, Sep 29th, 2016

New York baby born with DNA from 3 people, an official ‘genetically modified baby’

A five-month old boy is truly the world’s first: a human born using a new technique that incorporates DNA from three people.

The mother of the child carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that affects the developing nervous system. Mitochondrial DNA from the mother is mutated and is passed along to her children. In fact, while she is healthy, Leigh syndrome caused the deaths of her first two children.

The couple sought out the help of John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City.

Dr. John Zhang with the first baby born with three different DNAs

Dr. John Zhang with the first baby born with three different DNAs

Zhang has been developing this ground breaking technique to avoid mitochondrial disease using a “three-parent” method was to replace defective mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that exposed the child to the risk of inheriting Leigh syndrome.

According to the report published this morning, “the fertilization of both the mother’s egg and a donor egg with the father’s sperm” occurs and “Before the fertilizaion develops into early-stage embryos, each nucleus is removed. The donor’s fertilised egg nucleus is removed and then replaced by the mother’s fertilised egg.”

The couple is Muslim and opposed the technique based on religious reasons; therefore “Therefore Zhang undertook a different procedure called spindle nuclear transfer. This method consists in the removal of the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs before inserting it into an egg taken from the donor with its nucleus removed. This produces an egg with mitochondrial DNA from the donor and nuclear DNA from the mother which is then fertilized with the father’s sperm.”

The team opted for a more ethical approach with this technique, says Sian Harding, who reviewed the ethics of the UK procedure. The team avoided destroying embryos, and used a male embryo, so that the resulting child wouldn’t pass on any inherited mitochondrial DNA.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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