In research to be reported at the Scientific Congress of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine next month, an international team of scientists report the birth of the first baby born using a technique known as spindle nuclear transfer (SNT).
In this case the spindle of the egg, which contains the mother’s chromosomes, was placed into a donor egg from which the nuclear genetic material had been removed. The woman had previously lost 4 pregnancies and two of her children had died from Leigh syndrome, a condition related to abnormal mitochondrial DNA. Since mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) are maternally inherited, this technology can minimize the transmission of her disease-carrying mitochondrial DNA to help her have a healthy child.
The team used this technique to fertilize 5 eggs of which four developed to the blastocyst stage. Upon further testing, one blastocyst was found to be chromosomally normal. It was transferred into the patient and resulted in the birth of a healthy baby boy.
“This work represents an important advancement in reproductive medicine. Mitochondrial disease has been an important, and challenging problem. If subsequent research determines the safety and efficacy of spindle nuclear transfer, we look forward to it being an option for patients who risk transmitting mitochondrial diseases to their children,” stated Owen K. Davis MD, President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.