Monday, April 15, 2019

A Baby Born with DNA from Three People

TIME recently published an article about the success of maternal spindle transfer and how the technique may change reproductive medicine. Maternal spindle transfer was used by researchers at the Institute of Life in Athens, Greece to help develop an embryo for a woman who had experienced four failed cycles of IVF.  The technique of maternal spindle transfer involves removing the grouped DNA from the mother’s egg and implanting it into a donor egg which has had its DNA removed. After the mother’s DNA has been transplanted into the donor egg, the egg is fertilized and developed into an embryo. This technique allows researchers to avoid issues with the mother’s egg that were preventing the formation of a viable embryo. Researchers believe that donor mitochondria are one of the reasons maternal spindle transfer has been successful. Recent research has shown that mitochondria play a large role in reproduction, especially with fertilization and growth of embryos in older women. Maternal spindle transfer has been used in the Ukraine to help women with mitochondrial diseases start families, however, this is the first time the technique has been used on a woman with no known mitochondrial issues. Researchers at the Institute of Health do not see maternal spindle transfer becoming the newest trend in assisted reproductive technology (ART). It is more likely that this technique will be used to help researchers learn what goes wrong in an egg as a woman ages and what steps can be done to reverse these changes. 
While this technique may be able to help some start a family, there are some ethical dilemmas that need to be worked through for this method. This technique is very new and there is not enough research available to understand if there will be lasting consequences or side effects from introducing a third set of DNA into an embryo. While the baby was born healthy, will he face medical issues later in life because of how he was conceived? Also, all of this research has been conducted in Europe because it would be considered illegal in the U.S. United States law prohibits altering the genetic makeup of an embryo. Between the development of CRISPR, gene editing, and techniques like maternal spindle transfer, the United States government needs to reevaluate its policies and adjust them for the technologic advancements that have been made. Personally, I am opposed to allowing maternal spindle transfer here in the U.S. I feel that the lack of research and unknown consequences justify stopping research on this method. 


  1. This topic is very interesting. I did not know that there were tests being performed outside the United States regarding more ways to conceive a child. I do agree with you on the point that you made about the morality behind the research, however. I find that it is unfair to the child if he/she/they grow up with certain health defects due to the way that the child was conceived. I still find it interesting that such a conception is possible, however, and reading about it reminded me of how women can conceive children using the bone marrow of other women.

  2. New technological advances involving animals and humans are always controversial and raise ethical questions . I personally like the idea of research on mechanisms and technologies that can assist someone start a family. While I can fully support IVF, I can't say I fell the same about this approach. While IVF resolves mechanical issues for the egg and sperm to meet, this technique goes beyond that and alters DNA. The fact that there are so many things that can go wrong with that baby conceived through this method if the DNA transfer is not handled properly and is damaged, increase the risk of the procedure to me. I also don'r know how one would fell about themselves when is told that he or she was conceived that way.