Birth of first baby with DNA from three parents
The news of the birth of Ibrahim, a baby with genetic material from three people – his two parents and a donor – has been making its way around the world. The aim of the scientists who made it possible was to avoid the transmission of a serious hereditary disease, Leigh syndrome, which is transmitted by the mother. Nonetheless, the technique is still at the experimental stage and not entirely free from controversy, since it involves manipulating the genetic material of the embryo. This is why it was performed at a hospital in Mexico, a country where there are no laws expressly prohibiting it.
The problem is caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA from the mother present in her eggs. The diseases caused by these mutations are rare, but they affect vital organs and can be deadly. To prevent them, it is necessary to replace the damaged genetic material from the mother with healthy material and to transfer the genetic information from the parents to the egg of a donor that has been stripped of its nucleus. Nonetheless, “the part supplied by the donor represents just 0.1% of the baby's genetic material; the remaining 99.9% is from his parents,” explains Dr. Montserrat Boada, Head of the Biology Section of the Reproductive Medicine Department of Dexeus Women's Health and Chairwoman of the Association for Reproduction Biology Studies (ASEBIR).
"If we wanted to adopt this technique in Spain, we could technically do so without a problem, but we would need the approval of the National Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction", says Dr. Boada. "However, there is no demand, perhaps because the diseases circumvented by this technique are rare and perhaps also because egg donation, which is a far simpler solution to the same problem, is much more developed here than in other countries", adds Dr. Boada.