Sunday, May 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

30 genetically modified babies born: BBC

London, May 5
The world’s first genetically modified babies have been born in the USA after women unable to conceive naturally underwent a revolutionary new fertility treatment, the BBC reported.

Up to 30 babies have been born with genes not inherited from either parent following treatment described as the first time scientists have altered the genes that humans pass on to their offspring.

Tests have shown that a special fertility treatment carried out at the U.S. Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science of St. Barnabas, New Jersey, created a modified set of genes in the children.

Using the treatment, women who failed to conceive had their eggs modified with material from donor eggs.

Genes from the mitochondria, which surround the nucleus, were then transplanted, resulting in some cases in a successful birth.

The scientists have confirmed that the children’s cells contain mitochondria, and hence genes, from two women as well as their fathers, the BBC said yesterday.

A spokesman at the institute said researchers were not immediately available for comment.

The babies are said to be healthy, but the technique has already been criticised as unethical in Britain, where it would be illegal.

It is also likely to raise fresh concerns in the “designer baby” debate raging over the possible future production of genetically-modified children.

WASHINGTON: A US-based scientist has denied a published report that a technique developed by his team to help infertile women had produced the first genetically altered humans.

Jacques Cohen, one of the scientists who developed the technique in the USA, denied that the children had been born with altered genes.

However, Cohen said the technique did not involve creation of genetically altered humans.

The genes implanted by the scientists were taken from mitochondria, tiny structures which float around away from the cell’s nucleus.

They were transplanted into patients’ eggs because the scientists thought a problem with mitochondria cells was the cause of the infertility. Reuters, AFP

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