The world’s first baby produced by using the “3-parent IVF” technique was born in April 2016 in utmost secrecy.
His Jordanian parents travelled to Mexico where they were cared for by an American team, led by John Zhang from the New Hope Fertility Center in New York. The doctors went to Mexico where the little boy was born 5 months ago. Why Mexico? In close proximity to the United States, Mexico has no regulation prohibiting this controversial technique. This birth was kept completely secret. Even though the authors mention that the details of the birth will be presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in Salt Lake City in October.
The aim of using the 3-parent IVF technique was to offer a couple at high risk for transmitting mitochondrial disease, the possibility of giving birth to a child without this gene defect.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles and function as battery-like structures or “power-packs” to provide cells with energy, including the egg-cells. Mitochondria contain DNA, and mitochondrial DNA will be passed on from the mother to her children. Mitochondrial diseases are very rare but very serious.
> Refer to our Infographics: 3-parent IVF – what is it? <
Thus the human embryo is conceived from 3 different people’s DNA: the DNA from the biological father (by his spermatozoid), the DNA from the biological mother (using the nucleus from the mother’s egg cells) and the DNA from the mitochondria of another woman who donated her eggs. Once the donor egg has had its own nucleus removed, the nucleus from the biological mother’s egg is inserted.
The 3-parent IVF technique was legalized in the United Kingdom in 2015, but so far no other country has introduced laws to allow this technique, even if the United States seem to be considering it. In the 1990’s tests were carried out. To try to boost the quality of women’s eggs, cytoplasm containing mitochondrial DNA from “healthy” donor eggs (the cellular material that contains mitochondria) was injected, thus combining two sources of mitochondrial DNA. The procedure led to a few babies being born with DNA from the parents and from the healthy donor, but the children developed genetic disorders, and thus the procedure was banned.
It is highly likely that embryos were sorted to select a male and not a female. Indeed, a female would carry the risk of transmitting to future generations this triple genetic legacy. In the discussions regarding this technique in the United States, the American report suggested limiting the trials to implant mitochondrial cells only to male embryos.
Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s General Delegate remarks:
“Scientists legitimate this breakthrough for therapeutic purposes, as if the end justified the means. In truth, this birth which price can be counted in human lives conceived and rejected in the embryonic stage, constitutes the beginning of an unprecedented violation of human law. All of humanity is concerned. Until today, every human being was born from a man and a woman. The birth of a baby with “3 biological parents” violates this universal principle of the original male-female gender parity for pro-creation. Foolish demands will immediately exploit this breakdown in our anthropology. It is urgent to halt this aberration on a worldwide level, if we don’t want to have future human beings conceived and manipulated as if they were objects.”
Blanche Streb, Study Director for Alliance VITA declares:
“This is a situation of taking multiple hostages. First regarding the information itself. This practice was carried secretly in a laboratory, outside of any regulation or ethical radar. Then it was revealed in great style, putting the newborn child in the spotlight. He is presented « as being in good health » which everyone would hope, but the international community is faced with the fait accompli, the done dea,l and is forced into not questioning this technique since the “result” is a child. The child himself is a hostage, used as a guinea-pig in the technique used for his conception. For his entire life, he will be the ‘full-scale’ test result of 3-parent IVF. There are a number of unanswered questions about his future:, what are the potential consequences on his growth and development, on his health? What kind of psychological effects will result from this « triple filiation » and the conditions of his birth? Finally the couple itself is hostage to this compelling and respectable desire to have a biological child. Facing this desire the sorcerer’s apprentice had only one answer: producing a baby in vitro “not so biological anymore”. A genetically modified baby. This announcement is very serious. It shows that today scientists flout all ethical rules, presumptuously cross the red border line “tinkering” to produce a custom-made human being! We are not talking about health care, nor about healing.”
Alliance VITA has launched a national and international warning to inform the international community about the potential risks related to genetically modifying human embryos: NO GM Babies. Politicians urgently need to realize the ethical issues which are at stake.