Doctors have created a baby with DNA from three people, including eggs from two mothers and sperm from a father, to allow the couple to have a baby despite the mother’s infertility, according to BBC News.
The technique resulted in a healthy baby boy born on Tuesday. The doctors in Spain and Greece behind the development said they were “making medical history” and offering hope to infertile couples worldwide.
However, other experts advised caution regarding the ethical issues raised using the technique for fertility rather than to avoid passing fatal mitochondrial diseases to the baby, for which the technique was originally developed. It has been used to help one family with such a condition, and even that was considered controversial.
The method was developed by doctors in the UK, who first tried the technique last year.
Mitochondria help cells convert food into energy. In some diseases, defective mitochondria can be passed from mother to child, so bringing in DNA from a second mother can help avoid this.
Some scientists have speculated that mitochondria also affect the success of pregnancies as well, but this claim hasn’t been tested or proven.
Tim Child, medical director of The Fertility Partnership, voiced concern:
“I’m concerned that there’s no proven need for the patient to have her genetic material removed from her eggs and transferred into the eggs of a donor,” according to Child. “The risks of the technique aren’t entirely known, though may be considered acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease, but not in this situation. The patient may have conceived even if a further standard IVF cycle had been used.”
The Greek, 32-year-old patient had tried 4 cycles of IVF that were unsuccessful before giving birth using the controversial technique.
A Greek team of doctors worked with Embryotools, an IVF center in Spain. The center has said that 24 other women are participating in the trial, with eight embryos set to be implanted.
“We are very proud to announce an international innovation in assisted reproduction, and we are now in a position to make it possible for women with multiple IVF failures or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases to have a healthy child,” according to a statement from Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life in Athens. “A woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality.”