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Designer Baby: 3-parent boy born in Greece after controversial fertility technique

Fertility doctors in Greece and Spain announced on Thursday that they have produced a baby using DNA of three people in order to overcome a woman’s infertility. The baby boy was born weighing 2.9kg on Tuesday. The mother and child are said to be in good health. But experts express concern about the technique to produce a 3-parent baby.

The doctors said they are “making medical history” which could help infertile couples around the world.

It was developed to help families affected by deadly mitochondrial diseases which are passed down from mother to baby.

But some experts in the UK say the procedure raises ethical questions and should not have taken place.

The team used the experimental form of IVF and an egg from the infertile mother, the father’s sperm and another woman’s egg to conceive the baby boy. They transferred genetic material with chromosomes from the mother to the egg of a donor whose own genetic material had been removed in a process its creators hailed as a medical “revolution.”.

A similar DNA-switching technique was used in Mexico in 2016 to avoid transmission of a mother’s hereditary illness to her child.

But the case in Greece is the first time an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) technique using DNA from three people has been deployed to allow a mother otherwise unable to conceive to have a child.

The baby, born Thursday and weighing in at 2.96 kilos was delivered by a 32-year-old Greek woman who had undergone four unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilisation, Greece’s Institute of Life said in a statement.

Institute of Life president Dr Panagiotis Psathas, stated: “Today, for the first time in the world, a woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality. As Greek scientists, 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.”

Dr Psathas added: “Our commitment is to continue to help even more couples facing fertility issues to have children with their own DNA, without having recourse to egg donors.”

His scientific collaborator of the Institute of Life, Dr Nuno Costa-Borges, also hailed the news.

“The completely successful and safe implementation of the Maternal Spindle Transfer method — for the first time in medical history — is a revolution in assisted reproduction,” Dr Costa-Borges said.

He added that “this exceptional result will help countless women to realize their dream of becoming mothers with their own genetic material.”

However, using the triple DNA technique to aid in infertility cases raises complex ethical issues.

Tim Child, Oxford University professor and medical director of the Fertility Partnership, expressed his 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.

“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,” said Child.

The Greek team were working with the Spanish center Embryotools, which has announced that 24 other women are taking part in the trial and eight embryos are ready to be implanted.

sources: BBC, AFP

PS so far, the Greek doctors’ community has not expressed its point of view on the issue.

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