‘Three-parent babies’ explained | Science News

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‘Three-parent babies’ explained

IVF technique that led to recent birth of boy one of several

By
2:00pm, October 18, 2016
Zhang with baby

IT’S A BOY  Fertility doctor John Zhang holds a baby boy (face blurred for privacy) who is the world’s first child created by a mitochondrial replacement technique called spindle transfer. Such children have been dubbed “three-parent babies.”

A 6-month-old baby boy may have opened the door to a new world of reproductive medicine. He is the first person born from a controversial new technique for preventing mitochondrial diseases by creating a “three-parent baby” — a child in which the vast majority of DNA comes from the mother and father and a small amount of DNA comes from a female donor.

Mitochondria are organelles inside cells that, among other tasks, generate energy. The organelles are passed from mother to child. Mutations in the 37 genes housed inside mitochondria can lead to fatal inherited diseases that affect organs that need lots of energy, such as the brain and muscles. There is no cure or effective treatment for many of the mitochondrial diseases.

Some of the mitochondria in the baby boy’s mother’s cells have a mutation that causes

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