Doctors claim they have made medical history after a healthy baby boy was born via a controversial IVF technique that uses the genetic information of three parents. Both the baby, who was born on Tuesday, and his unnamed 32-year-old mother, are reported to be in good health, according to the Spanish and Greek doctors who oversaw their care.
The boy was conceived using a procedure known as Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST). MST is a type of in vitro fertilization in which harmful mitochondria found in the mother’s egg is removed and replaced by the female donor’s. The procedure still allows the preservation of genetic material from the woman with the desire to reproduce, ultimately allowing 99 percent of the DNA to be from the parents raising the child.
“The donor will only provide mitochondrial DNA, which only codes 37 genes and represents less than 1 percent of human DNA,” Dr. Nuno Costa-Bo rges said in an earlier statement.
The birth, carried out by the Institute of Life in Greece, marks the first time in the world the procedure ended successfully.
“The completely successful and safe implementation of the Maternal Spindle Transfer method – for the first time in medical history – is a revolution in assisted reproduction,” Costa-Borges said in a statement.
The mother resorted to the new method after failing to complete four cycles of IVF and an additional two other procedures. She is one of 25 women enrolled in the Institute’s MST trial.
Although successful and legally approved in the U.K. and Greece, the procedure raises ethical concerns among some medical professionals.
“I’m concerned that there’s no proven need for the patient to have her genetic material removed,” Tim Child, a professor at Oxford and medical director at the Fertility Partnership, told the BBC, adding “the patient may have conceived even if a further standard IVF cycle has been used.”
Others stress the technique should only be used on a case-by-case basis.
“There is limited evidence on risks and success rates, and it should only be used cautiously in cases where alternative treatments would be of little or no benefit,” a spokesperson for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority said in a statement about the birth.
The MST treatment remains banned in the U.S., where approximately one-third of adults have or know someone who has engaged in IVF procedures.