Mitochondrial Donation Technology
World’s first child with new three-parent technique (spindle transfer) was born this year in Mexico.
Mitochondrial Donation or Mitochondrial
manipulation technology (MMT) is a form of in vitro fertilization in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party apart from mother and father. This is a controversial technique because mitochondria contain genetic makeup and using the mitochondria from a third party means the genetic makeup of the baby has 3 parent.
This is a controversial technique because mitochondria contain genetic makeup and using the mitochondria from a third party means the genetic makeup of the baby has 3 parents.
Applications: Used in cases when mothers carry genetic mitochondrial diseases Cases where other IVF technologies do not work
Mitochondria is known as powerhouse of the cell, producing energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) Mitochondrial DNA is made up of 37 genes, making up <0.1% of our body’s total DNA. Mitochondrial dysfunction is due to mutations in either nuclear or mitochondrial DNA sequences.
Techniques used in MMT –
- Spindle transfer
- In this technique, the unfertilized mother’s egg which has abnormal mitochondria is taken and the spindle and other chromosomes are removed from it.
- They are then transferred to the unfertilized donor’s egg with healthy mitochondria.
- This reconstituted egg is then fertilized with sperm from the father.
- In this case, both the mother’s egg which contains abnormal mitochondria and the donated egg which contains normal mitochondria are first fertilized with father’s sperm.
- Then the mother’s pro nuclei is removed and transferred into the donor’s egg.
- It is then implanted into the mother’s uterus.
Social and ethical issues
- Though the third part constitutes only 0.1% of the genetic makeup. People opposing it say it
has psychological and physical effects which provide god like powers to the scientists.
- It involves modification of the germ-line which is then inherited by the later generations.
- This can lead to genetically modified i.e. designer babies where certain traits are changed or fixed.
- Safety issues may arise when some abnormal mitochondria is left.
- Techniques like pronuclear transfer involve creating and then destroying an embryo in the process.
- It raises questions about the identity of the individual, thus it has the potential to cause
disruption in the society.
- As scientists keep gaining the huge power to change the genetic makeup of future babies, question of access to the technology depending on income inequality gains importance.