More than 13 years ago, an experimental infertility treatment in which a number of couples participated in, resulted in the birth of 17 babies. What makes them special is the fact that they have a 3-way DNA, their parents and from an egg donor. Researchers checking up on the children have found that they are relatively healthy and normal.
Despite what seems to be continued success after so many years, this specific experimental treatment procedure is no longer performed. The follow-up on the children and positive reported that resulted is timely as another baby with a 3-way DNA was born just last month.
The new procedure is similar to the initial one but has a different purpose. It doesn’t address any infertility problems but instead it was trying to prevent the child from inheriting several harmful genetic conditions from the mother.
Opponents of this kind of procedures have voiced their concerns about the overall safety of the child. However, the fact that all the children of ages between 13 to 18, resulted from the fertility treatments, are doing well is a strong argument for these types of procedures and their benefits. Nonetheless, Dr. Jacques Cohen who performed the initial procedure has stated that his findings, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, should not be used as definitive proof regarding the safety of the newest treatment.
Both procedures consisting in the mixing of DNA from three persons involve the mitochondria. However, the newest procedure required the replacement of the whole part of the cell which was defective, while Cohen’s procedure consisted only in injecting a donor’s cytoplasm that contained mitochondria into the natural mother’s egg. This operation doesn’t have an effect on how the child will look like. The genes in the DNA of mitochondria do not affect appearance traits but are required to keep cells healthy.
The initial procedure developed by Cohen and his colleagues was used for a short period in two other fertility clinics in the US, However, after the FDA imposed stricter regulations the procedure was stopped as Cohen wasn’t able to obtain the necessary funding to continue while trying to obtain a permit from the FDA.
What do you think about the procedures involving the mixing 3-way DNA?
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