by Bethany Montgomery
What Was The Genetic Disorder That Prompted This Medical Miracle?
The baby’s parents had lost two children due to the disease that the mother has. The mother has Leigh Syndrome. Leigh Syndrome is a severe neurological disorder. The signs and symptoms of this disorder normally becomes visible in infancy and throughout the first year of a person’s life. This condition is characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities (psychomotor regression). This syndrome typically results in death within two to three years due to respiratory failure in the body. A small number of individuals do not develop symptoms until adulthood or have symptoms that worsen more slowly.
The baby was delivered in Mexico where the controversial procedure, not yet legal in the U.S., could be carried out. This process is best described as the combining of an egg from the mother of the child, an egg from the donor, and the father’s sperm. The donor’s egg has its nucleus removed, discarded, and then replaced with the nucleus from the mother’s egg. This produces the new egg which is then fertilized with the father’s sperm. This process produces a three-parent baby. The genes for Leigh syndrome occurs within the cell’s mitochondria. Therefore, replacing the mother’s mitochondrial DNA with the donor’s mitochondrial DNA should eliminate the disease from occurring within the baby.
This experiment was done in finding a way to stop the Leigh syndrome from continuing. The mother of the three-parent child had previously experienced the loss of 2 children from the Leigh syndrome. One of her children only made it to 8 months old, and the other child made it to 6 years old before passing away.
Why Do People Oppose This Experiment?
Some people do not agree with the idea of these types of procedures. They says that is causes the transfer of genetic changes to be passed on from generation to generation. They also do not agree because they believe that any problems that arise could affect people who are not even born. These people also says that the mitochondria is not understood as clearly as it should be before experiments such as these take place.
There is also a religious reason for people objecting against this experiment. This reason for disagreement is because, according to the Catholic church, during the process of this mitochondrial transfer, a fertilized egg from the mother is destroyed. In the church’s eyes, this is considered abortion which they do not support. They do not believing in killing eggs or babies because of their religion. They also believe that this doesn’t bring the full effect of parenthood because it is between three people and not just the two people who are married.