A boy was born on April 6 with the help of a brand new procedure which involves the DNA of three people. The procedure is called mitochondrial transfer and a team of doctors led by John Zhang from New Hope Fertility Center in New York carried it out successfully in Mexico.
The news has gained mixed response as the doctors who carried out the procedure did not publish details or regulatory framework regarding the treatment and went to Mexico.
Dr Zhang told the New Scientist that "he went to Mexico where there are no rules" and insisted that doing so was right. "To save lives is the ethical thing to do," he said.
The technique of mitochondrial transfer was legalised in the United Kingdom in 2015, but no other country has permitted the procedure so far.
The controversial technique aims at providing a healthy baby to parents with rare genetic disorder.
Born to Jordanian parents, the boy is named Abrahim Hassan. Media reports revealed that the mother of the child suffers from a gene disorder called Leigh syndrome.
This syndrome adversely affects the development of the nervous system, which impacts the DNA present in mitochondria - the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria get passed down to the baby from the mother.
The couple had been trying to conceive for the past 20 years and even faced four miscarriages and lost the first two children due to the syndrome. The wife was tested and it was found that she was healthy, but Leigh syndrome was carried by one-fourth of her mitochondria.
When Dr Zhang was approached by the couple, he thought of trying the mitochondrial transfer procedure. He obtained a nucleus from the woman's egg and placed it in a healthy donor's egg whose nucleus was removed too. This egg was then fertilized by the sperm of the husband.
There were five embryos created by the US team in the similar way and only one of them developed properly. This embryo was then implanted into the mother and the baby took birth nine months after the procedure was performed.
"This was an ice-breaker. The baby is reportedly healthy. Hopefully, this will tame zealous critics, accelerate the field, and we will witness soon the birth of the first mitochondrial donation baby in the UK," Dusko Ilic, a stem cell scientist at King's College London, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.