The first baby conceived with an egg of a donor whose genetic material belongs however to the mother was born this Tuesday in Athens, a pioneering technique against infertility resulting from a pilot project led by the Spanish center Embryotools and a Greek assisted reproduction clinic .
The mother of the 32-year-old baby suffered infertility after having undergone twice the operation of severe endometriosis and had undergone four injections of conventional in vitro fertilization treatments, without success. Thanks to this new treatment, he already has the expected little one in his arms.
"This technique can open a new era in assisted reproduction," the scientific director of Embryotools, whose headquarters in Barcelona, Nuno Costa-Borges, moved to Athens to attend the birth, told Efe.
The novelty of the technique of the Transfer of Maternal Spindle (MST, in its acronym in English) is that it allows women who do not achieve pregnancy with conventional in vitro treatments -which use the ovarian material of the patient-, can do so with the help from an egg donor but without renouncing the genetic material itself.
This is possible because the meiotic spindle (nucleus) of an oocyte (immature ovum) is fertilized from the patient, where the DNA is located, and is implanted in a healthy oocyte from a donor, which in turn has been previously removed its core.
In this way, the resulting ovum contains the genetic material of the patient but the rest of the components, which play a crucial role in the exit of the embryo, are from a healthy donor.
This ovule is, finally, fertilized with the sperm of the couple and implanted in the patient.
Costa-Borges explained that the birth of the first baby is "the last test that remained" to demonstrate that it is "a safe and efficient technique", researched for more than five years by the Embryotools team, and that earned them an award of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
In conjunction with the Institute of Life assisted reproduction clinic in Athens, they presented the project to the National Assisted Reproduction Authority of Greece, which approved it, thus allowing the start of the pilot project.
In total, the project plans to have about 25 women and, although for the time being it has managed to obtain nine already fertilized embryos, only two have been implanted to the patients. One, the woman who has already given birth, and the second, another woman who is currently nine weeks pregnant.
The baby was born with a weight of 2.96 kilograms and measuring 51 centimeters. His life will be completely normal, although he will be subject to a broad follow-up to supervise the impact of the technique on his development.
For Costa-Borges, the fact that donors contribute only cytoplasm in the MST reduces "the psychological burden" that can involve donating the oocytes themselves and that, therefore, will make it easier for more women to participate.
For the same technique a child was born in Mexico in 2016, although in this case it was not used to solve problems of fertility of the mother, but to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial diseases. In addition, according to Costa-Borges, that team did not follow all the necessary steps to prove the success of the technique.
"The concept is identical, but the technique has much more impact applied to the solution of infertility," said Costa-Borges, since it is a much more common phenomenon than mitochondrial diseases.