Authorities warned a fertility doctor in New Yok to stop from advertising an experimental procedure called the three-person baby technique that seeks to prevent certain genetic conditions.
The doctor, John Zhang, used the procedure last year to help a Jordanian couple conceive a baby boy. The technique uses DNA from a mother, a father and an egg donor, The Washington Post reports.
The Us Food and Drug Administration states that Zhang promised his companies would not use the technology in the country without permission, but he continues to promote it. The procedure for the Jordanian couple was performed abroad. A staff member at New Hope Fertility Clinic said that no one was available to comment on the issue.
Zhang runs this facility, along with a related company called Darwin Life Inc.
On New Hope’s website, the clinic markets the fact that it has achieved the “first live birth” using this procedure, and lists other fertility treatments it offers.
The three-person baby technique has not been approved in the USA, and Congress had prohibited the FDA from even reviewing proposals to undertake similar experiments. The FDA’s memo to Zhang points out several other marketing claims, including statements like “the first proven treatment for certain genetic disorders.”
The baby boy was born in September. His mother was a carrier of Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological condition that can kill a child within a few years. Zhang and his team removed some of the mother’s DNA from the egg, cutting off the disease-carrying DNA. The healthy DNA was then placed into a donor’s egg then fertilized with the father’s sperm.
The result is a child who inherits DNA from three people, hence the term “three parent baby,” although the donor egg’s DNA contribution is very slight.
The FDA requested a report last year, wherein a panel of US regulators said it is ethical to start testing this technology as long as there is the utmost care is taken, and must only involve women at high risk of passing on a fatal disease. The law against such experiments remains in effect, however.