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‘Three-person’ baby boy born in Greece

Topics Covered:

  1. Biotechnology and ethics related issues.


‘Three-person’ baby boy born in Greece


What to study?

For prelims and Mains: Maternal spindle transfer (MST)- features, significance, ethical and other issues involved.


Context: Fertility doctors in Greece and Spain say they have produced a baby from three people in order to overcome a woman’s infertility. Some experts in the UK say the procedure raises ethical questions and should not have taken place.



The experimental form of IVF uses an egg from the mother, sperm from the father, and another egg from a donor woman. It was developed to help families affected by deadly mitochondrial diseases which are passed down from mother to baby.

The technique was used in Mexico in 2016 to produce a baby for a family with mitochondrial disease complications. It was also used in Ukraine in 2017 to produce a baby for a 34-year-old Ukrainian mother suffering from “unexplained infertility.”


How was it done?

The team used a technique called maternal spindle transfer (MST).

All cells have mitochondria, which are like power packs for the cells and create the energy that keeps cells alive. While a child’s DNA is a mixture from both the mother and father, mitochondria are separate “packages of genetics” that come solely from the mother.

Some people have a mitochondrial disease — a problem with the genetics in their mitochondria — which can lead to severe, life-threatening conditions, although this is rare.

One treatment for a woman who might have one of these diseases is to replace the mitochondria in her eggs via IVF. This can be done via a process like the one used in Greece where the DNA is taken out of the woman’s egg and put into a donor woman’s egg once the DNA has been stripped from it, which is then fertilised with sperm to create an embryo.


Is it ethical?

With this, a woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality. However, some experts say the technique raises ethical questions and should be banned in cases not involving disease. The risks of the technique aren’t entirely known, though may be considered acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease.


The structure of a cell:

  1. Nucleus: Where the majority of our DNA is held – this determines how we look and our personality.
  2. Mitochondria: Often described as the cell’s factories, these create the energy to make the cell function.
  3. Cytoplasm: The jelly like substance that contains the nucleus and mitochondria.


Sources: the hindu.