A Chinese scientist has achieved the unthinkable of conceiving a baby with the help of a third party. A Jordanian couple with problems of conceiving were helped by Doctor and scientist John Zhang to conceive despite of the mother facing fatal abnormalities that had resulted in two miscarriages in the past.
The unique procedure of transferring the nucleus of the woman’s egg into that of another has resulted in what can be termed as the world’s first three parent baby.
Thanks to John Zhang, three won’t be a crowd anymore
Well that’s right; three isn’t a crowd for this couple who received the genetic procedure in Mexico on 6th April 2016. The reason for conducting the procedure in Mexico is because of the legalities of the process deemed unethical in various countries but has no legal bearing in Mexico.
The baby’s Mother was suffering from a rare genetic mutation called Leigh syndrome that inhibits development of the central nervous system. While the condition didn’t really affect the woman it prevented her from conceiving where she had already had two miscarriages.
A maternal mitochondrial DNA mutation prevented her from conceiving
The woman’s condition was genetically inherited from her maternal line and was contained within her Mitchondrial DNA. Fortunately the same material will not be found in the Nuclear DNA or a cell’s nucleus. Based upon this fact, Zhang removed a nucleus from one of the woman’s egg and transferred it into the egg of another donor woman whose nucleus had been removed. Thus the new egg contained the nuclear DNA of the mother without the damaging properties of the mutation.
The New egg was then fertilized by the father’s sperm and again replanted into the womb of the mother which enabled it to develop as a normal healthy egg. The result was a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby boy. That’s does sound fantastic but was it morally correct?
Right or wrong?
Zhang’s actions have been perceived as unethical and controversial in various circles. According to the scientist he believed he did the right thing. In an interview he said “to save lives is the ethical thing to do.” According to genetic tests, the new baby which was born to the Jordanian couple carried only 1 % of the mutation which doctors hoped was a negligible factor to affect his health. However only time can tell if he lives a healthy life or not.
The main advantage in the baby’s case is his gender being a male. The mitochondrial DNA that may be affected by his mother’s mutation will not be passed down to his children. He may well turn out to be the last of his line to harbor the genetic abnormality. Being the world’s first three parent baby, one wonders whether it was right to play god. But from another perspective, hasn’t God provided us the amazing factor of intelligence to use it in the most remarkable ways possible? This scientist hasn’t really performed some bizarre genetic experiment. He just helped a couple bypass disease to conceive a healthy normal child and that’s wonderful.