Details of First Three-Parent IVF Revealed

The team that oversaw the first use of mitochondrial replacement therapy that resulted in a live birth has published an account of the procedure.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

From 2017 to 2022, Bob Grant was Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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John Zhang with the baby that was the first ever to be born after mitochondrial replacement therapyIMAGE COURTESY OF NEW HOPE FERTILITY CLINIC

Last year, a Jordanian couple became parents to the world’s first-ever baby born through a controversial in vitro fertilization (IVF) technique called mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT). Now, the doctors who performed the procedure, which involves inserting nuclei from the mothers’ egg cells and into donor ova with healthy mitochondria, have revealed more detail on the conception and resulting live birth. 

John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City and colleagues published an account of the treatment in this month’s issue of Reproductive BioMedicine Online. “Certainly, this is a landmark study,” Dietrich Egli, a stem cell researcher at the New York Stem Cell Foundation, told Nature.

Zhang and colleagues revealed that the mother of the baby boy is a carrier...

In their paper, the researchers also reported that the child carried a 2.36 percent to 9.23 percent mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutational load in samples tested (including hair follicles, circumcised foreskin, and umbilical blood). Because some mutated mtDNA slipped into the embryo, the child may suffer health problems later in life, the authors wrote.

The parents of the child told Zhang and colleagues that they would forgo any mitochondrial testing in their son unless it becomes medically necessary.

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