On the 5th of January of this year, a baby girl of three parents was born. The child is the second three-parent baby the world has ever seen; the first being created in Mexico. This, however, does not disregard the fact that the method used by doctors in Kiev, was the first. They used a method called pronuclear transfer which involves three steps:
Firstly, the mother’s egg is fertilised by the father’s sperm as normal. Then, the combined genes are removed from the parents’ embryo and replaces the nucleus of the donor’s embryo. As a result, the child will contain the genetic identity of his/ her parents as well as a small amount from the donor’s.
IVF has been known to help infertile couples have babies but three-person IVF is able to do more. It allows women carrying genetic disorders to have a healthy child. An example of a genetic disorder is mitochondrial disease: one that has mutations in the mitochondria of cells, leading to the birth of disabled children. Sometimes, their disabilities can be so severe that it eventually leads to death. Three-person IVF avoids diseases like these being passed down to babies, as the donor has healthy embryos whilst keeping the DNA of the parents. The UK has laws that allow this research and experiments for couples with mitochondrial diseases. Despite this, a three-parent baby has not yet been born in Britain.
Of course, with revolutionary science comes ethical questions and controversy. It has been said that pronuclear transfer is experimental and has not actually been properly evaluated and will need further research as well as precaution. A possible question that may arise is whether or not humans are playing the role of God? Methods like these can be perceived as meddling which can offend many religions, who may think humans are acting as superiors. Some may even question the existence of a God.
As always, there is also the moral rights which need to be respected. How would the child feel about having been created by three-person IVF? Although, it could greatly reduce the population of newborns with genetic disorders and could possibly, in the long term, minimise the risks of diseases. Moreover, it can potentially increase the gene pool, as the baby would have a greater genetic variety. This means there is a higher chance of the future population surviving new-found diseases or environmental changes that could take place in the future. With this, how close are we to developing designer babies? If so, is it right that humans can manipulate life purely for our benefit?