Reasons to Believe

Science News Flash: First Three-Parent Baby Born

Shocking headlines from around the world have announced the first-ever birth of a baby with three parents (two mothers and one father)!

The research team who carried out this work will report the details about the conception and birth of this child at next month’s meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, to be held in Salt Lake City.1

Born to Muslim parents, this baby was conceived without destroying any embryos in the process. Fertilization took place in a test tube using the father’s sperm cells and a donor’s egg. Prior to fertilization, the researchers removed the nucleus from the donor’s egg and replaced it with the nucleus from one of the mother’s egg cells. In other words, the fertilized egg had genetic material from two women. The nuclear DNA came from the mother-to-be, and the DNA in the egg’s mitochondria came from the donor.

This procedure ensured that the child would be free from the devastating effects of a mutated gene in the mother’s mitochondrial DNA that causes Leigh syndrome.

This procedure holds the potential to eradicate hundreds of genetic disorders caused by mutations to mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria play a key role in energy production for the cell. If these organelles aren’t healthy, it can lead to a number of devastating neurodegenerative and muscular degenerative disorders.

How should Christians think about this exciting new biotechnology? Is it ethical? Will it lead to designer babies? Should we play God?

My answers to these questions might surprise you…

For details about this technique and my thoughts on how Christians should respond to this biomedical discovery, check out the February 25, 2014, edition of Science News Flash (podcast).

Resources

Endnotes

  1. J. Zhang et al., “First Live Birth Using Human Oocytes Reconstituted by Spindle Nuclear Transfer for Mitochondrial DNA Mutation Causing Leigh Syndrome,” Fertility and Sterility 106 (September 2016): e375–e376, doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.004.

Subjects: Ethics