Current Affairs

Doctor in hot water for engineering a baby with three parents

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The procedure results in a baby genetically having three parents

In news stirring up heated debate around the world, an American doctor has claimed responsibility for a procedure that has reportedly resulted in a baby genetically belonging to three parents

Dr. John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center publicly made the announcement of successfully engineering an embryo through a procedure called “spindle nuclear transfer.” This takes place when a faulty mitochondria from the mother’s egg are replaced with the healthy mitochondria of another woman before it is fertilized by sperm. The results are of a baby technically having three parents.

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The dangers of the procedure are numerous. If weakened mitochondrial DNA is passed on to a fetus for example, it could inherit one of many rare diseases such as epilepsy, diabetes or even heart problems. Despite a prior birth of a healthy baby boy as a result of the procedure, the US Food and Drug Administration has warned the doctor to stop marketing it.

The US Congress has also banned the controversial procedure due to the existence of a genetically modified embryo. Their bone of contention stems from the fact that Dr. Zhang, in an article, claimed that the embryo was made in the U.S. which is illegal.  They have not yet authorized the procedure for human testing and Congress has banned it because of the genetic make-up of the embryo.

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Some have accused both the Doctor and the clinic or playing God while others view this as a victory for science.  What are your thoughts?

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About the author

Mashudu Malema