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World’s First Baby With New “3-Parent” Technique Born in Mexico



Dr. John Zhang and Little Abrahim Hassan

Dr. John Zhang and Little Abrahim Hassan

The world’s first child has been born using a revolutionary technique that combines the genes of three parents, DailyMail reports.

Five-month-old Abrahim Hassan’s Jordanian parents, Ibtisam Shaban and Mahmoud Hassan, were treated by a U.S based team in Mexico, using a controversial technique – which has only been legally approved in the UK – that allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy babies.

Shaban carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by the degeneration of the central nervous system; the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. Although she is healthy, Shaban’s first two children died because of Leigh syndrome, so she sought out the help of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York.

The doctors, led by John Zhang, designed a new “three-parent” technique.

The traditional way to do this is to use a method known as Pronuclear Transfer, which involves fertilising both the mother’s egg and a donor’s egg with the father’s sperm. When both eggs start dividing into early-stage embryos, scientists remove the nucleus. The nucleus from the donor’s egg is discarded, and the one from the mother is inserted in its place. This is the technique that was legally approved in the UK in 2015.

However, the couple rejected this technique for religious reasons – they didn’t want an embryo to be discarded. Thus, another “three parent” technique, known as Spindle Nuclear Transfer, was used. The nucleus was first removed from the mother’s egg and inserted into a donor’s egg, after removing its own nucleus. Only then was the resulting egg fertilised with the father’s sperm.

Neither method has been approved in the US, so Zhang went to Mexico instead, where he says “there are no rules”. He is adamant that he made the right choice. “To save lives is the ethical thing to do,” he says.

“This is a milestone technique.  It proves for the first time that genetic information from three people can avoid disease. We now know reconstitution of human eggs can produce a healthy baby. No other technique has been established,” Zhang told DailMail.

The team will describe the findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City in October.

According to New Scientist:

A remaining concern is safety. Last time embryologists tried to create a baby using DNA from three people was in the 1990s, when they injected mitochondrial DNA from a donor into another woman’s egg, along with sperm from her partner. Some of the babies went on to develop genetic disorders, and the technique was banned. The problem may have arisen from the babies having mitochondria from two sources.

When Zhang and his colleagues tested the boy’s mitochondria, they found that less than 1 per cent carry the mutation. Hopefully, this is too low to cause any problems; generally it is thought to take around 18 per cent of mitochondria to be affected before problems start.


Photo Credit: New Hope Fertility Center


  1. Santos.

    September 27, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Have mercy on us o God! and save and deliver us NOW from us.

    • Corolla

      September 28, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      @Santos What should God save us from exactly? He should save us from technological advancements that allow people who may not be able to have kids, have them? He should save us from doctors, who are eliminating genetic orders in babies? He should save us from science that allows some people have healthy babies? What exactly should he be saving us from, ehn? Some of us just get religious when we do not understand certain phenomena. Please use your brain, do your research, try to analyze things before jumping on the ever so convenient religious bandwagon. Religiousness without sense!

    • Vortex

      September 28, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Good response.

  2. Bey

    September 27, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Nawa o, is this ethical at all. I understand d plight of d mother not wanting to pass a degenatory disease to her offspring. But this isn’t ethical to me, I fear a lot of same sex parents may also want to use this. And then we start another mess again. Kids having 3parents, it’s not just proper. And I doubt if this is Gods plan for what a family shld be.
    They’ve already started teaching kids in d UK d different family systems we have, mummy and mummy, daddy and daddy. I just fear we’re science is going with this. Next up is generating animal and human cells together.

    • Tsola

      September 27, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Nigerians love lying to themselves. The way they lie to themselves about people being gay and using IVF. When they use it they’ll now go to church and give incomplete testimony

    • Mannie

      September 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

      It is actually ethical and I will tell you why.

      Every woman inherits her mitochondria from her maternal grandmother. The issue of ethics questions whether a child is likely to inherit 1 chromosome from her grandmother (it is definite that the child gets a chromosome from both her parents). It turns out that this is also it is likely, it is not essential for human existence to take place as approximately 1 in approx. 9 million women do not have any chromosomes from their grandmothers. Thus, the only characteristic similar between these 9 million women and their maternal grandmothers, is the mitochondria that are identical to both of them.

      In short, this process says that the child can use her mother’s mitochondria and not bother about obtaining any chromosome from her grandma because, there are loads of people who exist without any chromosome from their grandma’s anyway. This would be unethical if a woman DEFINITELY needed her grandparent’s chromosome together with her parents’ to exist; which is not the case.

    • molarah

      September 28, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Truth is, it’s just sensational to refer to this baby as a 3-parent baby. Only 2 nuclei were involved not 3, as the genetic material required to create one individual can come from only 2 sex cell nuclei. The newborn is really still a product of his mother and father’s genes, just like the rest of us. It is only because the Leigh’s disease is linked to mitochondrial DNA (that is present in the mitochondria which is outside the nucleus) that this process was effective in removing the risk of inheriting the Leigh’s disease.

  3. tunmi

    September 27, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    ??????? thank you Mexico!!!!

  4. Amen

    September 27, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    Father help us. Lead us ARIGHT. Amen.

  5. Mannie

    September 28, 2016 at 12:18 am

    I think this is really exciting stuff. When the conventional IVF technique was first used, a lot of people came out shouting ethical concerns. Today, it happens to be a widely used procedure to ensure delivering healthy babies. This mitochondrial technique is a positive step in the right direction. Together with gene editing, I believe this procedure could bring to end, some of the well known genetic disorders that plagues our world today.

  6. vidavi

    September 28, 2016 at 2:47 am

    We are playing GOD? this won’t end well. The bible tells me so

    • Mohammad

      September 28, 2016 at 6:27 am

      Playing god? We ARE God!!!!

    • Corolla

      September 28, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Lol! Playing God? Ok na, when you are sick don’t use medication, so gbo? If you or your family members ever require surgery, transplant or chemo, please do not go for it.

      Also, please quote the bible passage that told you so. Thanks.

  7. Lilmizwierd

    September 28, 2016 at 11:22 am

    I love this jawe. Thanks Mexico I pray the baby survive. Nigerians and their religiousness

  8. Lou

    September 29, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    @corolla, I understand your reasoning but technological advancements get really scary, there is a reason it’s not approved for use in the U.S. It’s like turning the basic principles of life up side down

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