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Three-parent Babies


By Dr. Jamil anwar

LAHORE: “In vitro fertilization” (IVF) is a process of fertilization where an egg from a female is combined with male sperm outside the body (in a test tube). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing a few eggs from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a liquid in a laboratory. The fertilized egg (zygote) is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy. With IVF women, who have passed their reproductive years or have reached menopause can still become pregnant. Adriana Iliescu of Romania held the record as the oldest woman to give birth using IVF and donated egg, when she gave birth in 2004 at the age of 66. After the IVF treatment many ladies are able to get pregnant without any fertility treatments. In 2012 it was estimated that five million children had been born worldwide using IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques. now the scientists have gone one step further. Last year they have opened the door to a new world of reproductive system. A baby boy was born apparently with the contribution of “Three parents”. The vast majority of this boy’s DNA came from his mother and his father but a small bit of extra DNA came from an unrelated woman. This child got some of his genetic inheritance from each of these adults. Because of that bonus DNA from the
unrelated woman, some people say babies like this boy have three parents. Scientists didn’t go to all of the effort to mix the DNA from these three people as an experiment. In fact, they did it to overcome a problem in the boy’s mother. Some of the mitochondria in the boy’s mother have a type of mutation, which could be passed to the offspring. Hence scientists substituted the faulty mitochondria of actual mother with healthy DNA from an unrelated woman. The technique worked beautifully and a healthy baby boy was born last year. His birth, though, caps nearly three decades of work to produce healthy human eggs by manipulating the organelle. The new baby appears to have been saved from a deadly genetic disease. Still, there are ethical and safety concerns about his “three-parent” heritage.

The writer is a scientist and chemist. former vice chancellor Lahore garrison university and former pro vice chancellor at Punjab university. He can be reached at jamilch@brain.net.pk

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