First 3-person IVF baby born via “rogue” experiment at Mexico clinic?

Today we got the first report of a baby being born via so-called “3-person IVF”, sometimes called 3-parent IVF, in which the DNA of three people contribute to an offspring.

Before discussing this further I have to emphasize that we need proof that this is indeed really a 3-person IVF baby via genetic testing. Until that data is released publicly we should all be cautious on this news. Apparently the clinic plans to present such data later.

Assuming it is a 3-person IVF baby, which seems most likely, I discuss the key issues below.

For the 3-person IVF baby, it is hoped to be free of mitochondrial disease (the whole point of doing the procedure), but there are serious risks here. The doctor doing this experiment was John Zhang of New York University and New Hope Fertility Center, but he did it in Mexico.

john-zhang-with-3-person-ivf-baby

John Zhang holds the baby; New Scientist picture

I’m deeply concerned by this news.

The fact that Zhang went to a place where he reportedly himself said, “there are no rules”, to do this illustrates that this 3-person IVF procedure was not given proper regulatory and ethical oversight. It feels more like it was done in secret.

Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of The Center for Genetics and Society referred to this kind of thing as “rogue experimentation” in a press release. In a sense she’s right about this, in particular because the world’s experts are really still trying to sort out the core issues surrounding this kind of technology. It is an understatement to say this was jumping the gun. 3-person IVF is not permitted in the US due to safety concerns.

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CRISPR Update: Patents, Embryos, & IPOs, oh my

It’s been a busy few weeks for the CRISPR arena so I’ve made a CRISPR Update. I’ve listed below links to some commentaries and key developments.Joanne Manaster

 

Fun Video interview on Read Science! with Joanne Manaster on my new book on CRISPR in humans, GMO Sapiens.

CRISPR: Pursuit of profit poisons collaborationNature piece by Jacob Sherkow

HIV Fights Off CRISPR Gene-Editing Attack. HIV adapts when CRISPR attacks.

2nd group CRISPR’s human embryos and things don’t go well. More Indels than precise gene edits, mosaicism and more.

CRISPR biotech Intellia strikes licensing deal with Regeneron, readies IPO. It’s interesting that there are these CRISPR IPO’s when the CRISPR patent situation remains entirely up in the air.

George Church versus Marcy Darnovksy on human modification in the WSJ

CRISPR/Cas9 Used to Create Knockout Chickens. Bock bock adoodle moo