A 5-month-old born using a "revolutionary" genetic technique is said to be the world's first baby created using DNA from three parents since the technique was banned about two decades ago, New Scientist reports. The boy, IDed by the International Business Times as Abrahim Hassan, was born in Mexico to Jordanian parents, and embryologists are hoping his successful birth will hasten using the procedure elsewhere. Abrahim's mother, Shaban, carries the gene for Leigh syndrome—a severe neurological condition that decimates mental and physical capabilities and often results in a child's death before kindergarten. Although Hassan herself is healthy, her first two children died from the disease. That's when she and her husband looked for assistance from NYC's New Hope Fertility Center, where a team led by Dr. John Zhang started them off on an alternative way to parenthood.
There are a couple of different ways to pull off the three-parent technique, but the one they chose to go with is called spindle nuclear transfer, in which the nucleus from the mother's egg is placed in a donor egg whose own nucleus has been taken out; that egg, which then contains nuclear DNA from the mom and mitochondrial DNA from the donor, is fertilized with the father's sperm. Five embryos were created in this case, and when just one "took," it was implanted into Hassan, who delivered Abrahim nine months later. This all had to be done in Mexico, where Zhang says "there are no rules" (the Times labels it "relatively flexible legislation"; the procedure isn't approved in the US). One concern scientists are keeping an eye on: faulty mitochondria that could replicate, a problem that may have occurred when the technique was last tried in the '90s. (The UK has OKed a controversial gene-editing method.)