TPIVF (Three Parent In-Vitro Fertilization): Babies with three parents

Date: February 03, 2015

Three parent babies

TPIVF (Three Parent In-Vitro Fertilization): Babies with three parents

Background: The process is a further progressive step in the modern day technology IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) and is referred as TPIVF (Three Parent In-Vitro Fertilization). The principle need of the technique was the diseases which are transferred via mitochondrial genome. Mitochondria are bean shaped cellular organelles, referred to as power house of the cell as are responsible for the generation of ATP (energy) in the cell. The feature that makes mitochondria unique is that it possess genome of its own which is transferred from one generation to another and is reffered as mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA). Some disorders which are associated with mtDNA are: Diabetes mellitus and deafness, Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, Leigh syndrome, Neuropathy, ataxia, ptosis, neuropathy, mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like symptoms. These disorders become unique in such a way that they are usually inherited and thus are non-curable.

Procedure: The technique involves three donor cells: The first one providing egg (female genetic material), second one providing healthy mitochondria and the third one providing sperm (male genetic material).  The procedure is attained by transferring the nucleus from the egg from a cell (probably with defective mitochondria) and replacing it with nucleus of another cell with intact cytoplasmic content including mitochondria. This hybrid egg is then fertilized with sperm creating a zygote. The process is almost similar to IVF technique but involves the first step as add on.


New approach: The first known TPIVF procedure was performed in 1997 where Sarah and Paul Saarinen concived via TPIVF and now have a healthy daughter named Alana. Now, in present decades researchers are working on a new dimension based on the same principle. The technique being worked out is called Mitochondria replacement therapy. In TPIVF, the quantity of mtDNA incorporated was very small, whereas, in this new technique, complete mitochondria are being replaced.

Why in news: In last decades, many women must have undergone TPIVF and now must have teenaged kids (In UK and US), but presently, the issue has gained significant momentum. The major credit goes to media uplifting the issue as three-parent born kids. Then the advanced stage already discussed in the article as mitochondrial replacement therapy is of concern of law. Presently, UK and US norms do not allow any technique to undergo clinical trials if they involve any changes in the human genome. Incorporation of mitochondria will add a significant amount of genome in next generation which raises a concern.

In India: Presently, no report is published which could claim performing TPIVF or Mitochondrial replacement therapy in India.