Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) has produced a positive result in the form of a healthy baby boy whose mother suffered from Leigh Syndrome and who’d already lost two babies before due to her condition. This disease is a progressive and fatal neurological disorder that’s inherited due to the mother’s DNA.
Previously, physicians when performing an IVF were able to deselect ill embryos and help parents who had troubles when obtaining a pregnancy. Now with MRT, these doctors will be able to remove the damaged mitochondrial material from the mother’s egg and replace it with the healthy material from a donor’s egg. The procedure goes through three stages: first, the doctors transfer the nuclear genome of the mother’s egg (leaving behind the damaged mitochondria) to the donor’s egg that has only healthy mitochondria. Then, the egg is fertilized by the father’s sperm and finally it’s place on the mother’s womb, resulting in a regular pregnancy. Due to how new this research is, parts of the procedures were conducted in a private clinic in New York, while the most “risqué” parts of the procedure were conducted in Mexico, were health and security measures are more lax.
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) February 14, 2017
The announcement of the successful birth was obviously met with mixed and controversial responses. Some people claim that the procedure is unethical and that the doctors use and bend the laws to their advantage, coming up with smart ways of avoiding legal repercussions. Others praised the procedure for what it could mean to the human race and how it can help in avoiding many fatal diseases while creating a possibility of completely eliminating them in the future.
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