In a technique called spindle nuclear transfer, the nucleus of a donor egg is removed and the DNA of another woman’s egg is injected.
The FDA is taking a hard stance on a controversial fertility technique that involves genetically modifying embryos.
The New York-based doctor who helped a couple have a child using DNA from three people has been told by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop the clinical trials meant to test the technique.
Last year, John Zhang, the founder of New Hope Fertility Center, pioneered a new type of in-vitro fertilization that involves transferring DNA from the mother’s egg into a hollowed-out egg donated by a younger woman. But the work violates federal legislation that forbids implanting genetically modified embryos, so after fertilizing the egg with the father’s sperm, Zhang went to Mexico, where he inserted the embryo into the mother’s womb. A healthy baby boy was born in April 2016.
Zhang then requested a meeting with the agency to ask permission to carry out a clinical trial using the technique in the U.S. The agency subsequently denied the meeting. Zhang has since been marketing his fertility procedure to women with certain genetic diseases and older women having trouble conceiving through a new company called Darwin Life. Modifying embryos in a lab is not illegal under U.S. law as long as federal funds are not used to carry out the work. But implanting one in a woman’s womb so that a baby can develop is prohibited.