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And baby makes 4? First 3-parent baby born

October 1, 2016

 

First 3-person baby born!

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Clever bit of genetic engineering to help a family that has had so much heartache already!
It’s long been known that mitochondria have their own DNA. This is believed to be a holdover from an ancient time when the first cells evolved an “endosymbiotic” relationship with a smaller but more powerful little organism that cranked out ATP, the fuel that cells run on. This little guy eventually devolved into our present day mitochindria.

Flash forward to present day, when it’s realized that a number of disease can be traced to mutations in Mitochondrial DNA. Since the sperm cell does not transfer mitochondria to the cell, such a disease is directly from the mother, via cytoplasmic mitochondrial DNA.

The idea for the “three-person baby” isn’t nearly as kinky as it sounds. It’s a transfer in the test tube of the mother’s healthy nuclear DNA to a cytoplasm donor with healthy mitochondrial DNA. The hybrid egg then undergoes typical in-vitro fertilization. Years ago, there was a TV show called “Alien Nation” that had aliens that needed 3 people to reproduce. There was a genetic mom and dad, and then a very special rare individual in the population, was needed to provide a “catalyst” for fertilization of the egg to take place. A little bit of media foreshadowing? Should we refer to the egg donors as “mitochondria mommas”?

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