Why in the news THREE PARENT BABY?

Recently, a baby has been born using three people’s DNA in the UK with help of a Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT) procedure in THREE PARENT BABY.

About Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT):

With MRT, a child conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF) utilizing a donor’s mitochondria and the genetic material of the parents. It operates on the principle that, in order to prevent mitochondrial disorders from being passing from the mother to the offspring, damage mitochondria replace by healthy mitochondria. MRT can be use either before or after IVF of the egg to stop mitochondrial illnesses from being pass down from parent to child. It also known as Mitochondrial Donation Treatment (MDT) and Three- parent babies Process (due to involvement of three persons).


  • Embryos creates by fusing the donor egg’s mitochondria—small, battery-like structures—with the sperm and egg of the biological parents.
  • The resulting child contains normal DNA from the mother and father, in addition to a small quantity (about 37 genes) from the donor.

Two types of Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy (MRT):

  1. Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) Technique aka Reconstructed Egg Technology: Nuclear genetic material is removed from eggs and transferred into donated eggs which have had their nuclear genetic material removed. The eggs are then fertilized with sperm to create embryos. Therefore, it is done before fertilization.


  1. Pronuclear Transfer (PNT) technique (substitute to MST): Eggs are fertilized with sperm in a lab to create embryos. The nuclear genetic material within each embryo is then transferred into embryos created using donated eggs and sperm from the sperm provider. Again, the nuclear genetic material will have been removed from the donated eggs. Hence, it is done after the process of fertilization.


  • In both techniques, eggs or embryos are created using nuclear genetic material and healthy donated mitochondria. In both MST and PNT, the resulting embryos would contain the parent’s genetic material. Both techniques work equally well.

Benefits of Mitochondrial Donation Treatment (MDT):

  • Disease Prevention: MDT gives a newborn the chance to have a better life because there are no effective treatments for mitochondrial illnesses, which can lead to serious health problems. Mitochondrial disorders impact about one in 6,000 newborns.
  • Genetic Connection: By utilizing mitochondria from a younger donor while maintaining the mother’s nuclear DNA, MRT can let older women with low-quality eggs conceive a biologically related child.
  • Reproductive Freedom: When one woman provides nuclear DNA and the other mitochondrial DNA, MRT can help same-sex couples who want a kid who is genetically connected to both of them.

Problems with Mitochondrial Donation Therapy (MDT):

  • Effectiveness: Due to the dynamic nature of mitochondria and the possibility of remaining damaged mitochondria upon transfer, the efficacy and long-term advantages of MRT may be compromised.
  • Incompatibility Risks: There may be difficulties if the recipient’s nuclear genome and the donor’s mitochondria are not compatible.
  • Lack of Data: Because MRT is still in its experimental stages and there isn’t enough information on possible side effects, application must be done carefully.
  • Effect on Child: There are worries that MRT may have an adverse effect on a child’s personality, possibly resulting in neurological abnormalities, and that it may also increase the risk of cancer and developmental disabilities.
  • Cost Barriers: MRT is an expensive process that many societal segments cannot afford.

Ethical concerns associated with MRT:

  • Possibility of “Designer Babies”: Since MDTs entail genetic alteration, there is a chance that they will pave the way for the development of “designer babies,” or embryos that have been genetically modified to have desired traits. This raises a number of moral questions about possible technological abuse and eugenics. Eugenics, usually applied to humans, is the selection of desirable heritable traits with the intention of improving subsequent generations.
  • The role of a Mitochondrial Donor in a Child’s Life: The Donor contributes significantly to a healthy conception, but only at the beginning. This raises questions about the donor’s biological claim to the child and level of involvement in their upbringing.


If the MDT technique is to be used in the nation, its application should be governed by a regulatory agency in order to prevent unethical practices. Conducting appropriate clinical trials is necessary in order to gather information regarding the safety and effectiveness of the employed method.

Source: The Hindu