The world’s first baby has been born using a new “three person” fertility technique, New Scientist reveals.
The five-month-old boy has the usual DNA from his mum and dad, plus a tiny bit of genetic code from a donor.
US doctors took the unprecedented step to ensure the baby boy would be free of a genetic condition that his Jordanian mother carries in her genes.
Experts say the move heralds a new era in medicine and could help other families with rare genetic conditions.
But they warn that rigorous checks of this new and controversial technology, called mitochondrial donation, are needed.
It’s not the first time scientists have created babies that have DNA from three people – that breakthrough began in the late 1990s – but it is an entirely new and significant method.
Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside nearly every cell of the body that convert food into usable energy.
Some women carry genetic defects in mitochondria and they can pass these on to their children. In the case of the Jordanian family, it was a disorder called Leigh Syndrome that would have proved fatal to any baby conceived.
Scientists have devised a number of ways to circumvent this problem.
The US team, who travelled to Mexico to carry out the procedure because there are no laws there that prohibit it, used a method that takes all the vital DNA from the mother’s egg plus healthy mitochondria from a donor egg to create a healthy new egg that can be fertilised with the father’s sperm.
The result is a baby with 0.1% of their DNA from the donor (mitochondrial DNA) and all the genetic code for things like hair and eye colour from the mother and father.
The UK has already passed laws to allow the creation of babies from three people.
But the science does raise ethical questions, including how any child from the technique might feel about having DNA from three people.
Fertility experts say it is important to push ahead, but cautiously.
Prof Alison Murdoch, part of the team at Newcastle University that has been at the forefront of three person IVF work in the UK, said: “The translation of mitochondrial donation to a clinical procedure is not a race but a goal to be achieved with caution to ensure both safety and reproducibility.”