Exclusive: World’s first baby born with new “3 parent” technique
A five-month-old boy is the first baby to be born using a new version of a controversial technique that uses DNA from three people
This headline pops up just about EVERY YEAR. How can the world’s first 3-parent baby keep getting born over and over again? Let me explain to you why that’s not really what you might think it is based on the headline.
1. This basic technique was first carried out in the 90′s. THOSE KIDS HAVE GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. They called it 3-parent then, and now they’re calling this almost-identical procedure 3-parent. The difference now is just when the sperm fertilizes the egg, being after the egg nucleus is implanted in the egg of a donor, as opposed to before.
2. This is not a situation where each parent gives a third of their DNA. What’s really happening is that there are TWO parents, and one person, a donor, who is donating the cytoplasm and the non-nucleus organelles of the egg. The donor’s egg nucleus–with all of her ribosomal DNA–is discarded. Then, yes, there is like 0.03% of her DNA that is still there, in the mitochondria. Mitochondira convert ATP into energy but they do not have any fun traits on them like your hair color, personality, predisposition to cancer, or basically anything that you would consider getting from your parents.
3. GMO Babies? If not 3-parent, people call these Genetically modified. I guess they are sort of, but listen. This is not some CRISPR-CAS9 shit where you can cut and paste traits here and there and across individuals and organisms. This is all about this one little organelle. I should also note that, in places where this procedure is legal, there is a focus on discarding the female blastocysts, so that only males are born, who do not pass on mitochondria to their own kids.
In short, it is weirdly common for assisted reproductive technology to be blown out of proportion in headlines. And Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.