Controversial “three-parent’ embryos could be the answer to infertility

A New York fertility doctor has a provocative vision to treat infertility: get patients pregnant with “three-parent” babies.

Dr. John Zhang, who formed the company Darwin Life, wants to use two women’s eggs and swap cells from the donor egg to the patient’s, according to Gizmodo.

The technique, which could cost as much as $100,000, aims to reverse the effects of aging and repair certain cellular defects.

According to Darwin Life, the result is an egg that would be about an 98.9 percent genetic match. In some cases, the egg could be years younger than the patient.

The patient would be implanted with the egg once it has been fertilized by the sperm.

The technology remains banned by US lawmakers, but scientists are hopeful that could change now that the United Kingdom has approved the procedure.

There has already been one success story that made headlines, the New Scientist reported. In 2016, a “three-parent baby” was born after Zhang traveled to Mexico to perform the procedure for Jordanian parents.

Darwin Life has begun to screen potential patients, but critics have raised questions about the safety of the procedure.

Some argue that the technique is not well-studied enough to be practiced.

“It offends me deeply when someone charges three arms and four legs for a procedure that has next to no evidence for efficacy and very little evidence for safety, ” Stanford bioethicist Hank Greely told Gizmodo.

Others raise concerns about the long-term effects.

“We really don’t know what is going on in this technique, or that the baby is going to grow up normally, or, most importantly whether this is even going to work,” UCSF molecular biologist Patrick O’Farrell told Gizmodo. “In my mind, the most disturbing thing about all of this is there are hopeful parents who want to have kids and there is a fertility industry that takes advantage of them. It’s free enterprise gone crazy.”


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