Mitochondrial Donation Raises Familiar Questions About IVF

IMG_0792Last week a story broke about the world’s first baby born via a new technique called mitochondrial donation. Mitochondrial donation is the newest version of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and creates babies who genetically have three parents.

This new technique involves taking an egg cell from the biological mother, extracting the nucleus of the egg, and placing the nucleus into a donor egg cell which also has the nucleus extracted. The new egg cell (which contains the nucleus of the biological mother’s egg and the rest of the cell from the donor mother) is fertilized with the father’s sperm, creating an embryo. The embryo is then implanted into the mother.

 The technique is viewed as beneficial because there are certain genetic disorders and abnormalities which reside in a biological mother’s mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondrial DNA exist outside of the cell’s nucleus and can thus be separated from the nuclear DNA in this procedure. In the particular story just released, the mother had Leigh Syndrome, a fatal disorder which affects the developing nervous system. Indeed, the mother had tragically already lost two children to this disorder.
Read the article here.