Spanish and Greek fertility doctors have claimed that a baby was born in Greece using DNA from three persons. The child has been conceived by making use of genetic material from a man and two women. The used technique – mitochondrial donation – is considered a controversial but was used in order to counter the mother’s infertility. The Greek mother is 32 years old and has already tried her luck using IVF treatments four times without achieving any success.
The procedure was carried out in Greece since it is not an approved practice in Spain. The procedure was a success nonetheless, and the child and mother are said to be in good health. The technique is an experimental IVF treatment and has been named mitochondrial donation. It features using an egg from the mother, sperm from the father, and another egg that comes from a female donor.
The experts in the UK have criticized the mitochondrial donation treatment claiming that it involved risks that are unjustified. Tim Child is an associate professor at the University of Oxford and medical director of the Fertility Partnership. He says, ‘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. Without a proper well-designed study, with the use of controls, it is not possible to say whether this technique has benefitted the patient.’
The trial’s lead and also the co-founder of Embryotools Dr Nuno Costa-Borges believes in mitochondrial donation treatment and has said that 99% of the baby’s genes are from the mother and father. Only the remaining one percent comes from the egg donor. He said, ‘For some patients, it’s very hard to accept that they cannot get pregnant with their own [eggs]. Spindle transfer may represent a new era in the IVF field, as it could give these patients chances of having a child genetically related to them.’
Dr Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life, is also in favor of mitochondrial donation and said, ‘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.’
The mitochondrial donation has been used in Mexico, Ukraine, and Jordan before. However, all such trials have raised controversy. What do you think? Do let us know!