Spanish Baby 'Genetically Engineered' to Cure Brother's Illness

Posted Oct 16, 2008 by Chris V. Thangham
A Spanish baby is currently suffering from a rare hereditary disease and doctors say he only has a few more years to live. After receiving the news, the baby’s parents underwent a special genetic treatment to conceive another baby to cure the first one.
Caratunas village in Andulasia is located South of Spain
Caratunas village in Andulasia is located South of Spain
Little Javier was born this past Sunday free from his family’s hereditary disease called Beta Thalassaemia major. Javier's brother Andres, 6, has the disease.
Javier’s parents underwent a genetic pre-implant diagnosis treatment so that Javier would be free from that hereditary disease. Doctors also hope to cure his elder brother Andres.
After Andres was born, he was diagnosed with Beta Thalassaemia major, a disease that causes the body to fail to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells. His parents tried different medical treatments but none were able to cure his condition. Without a cure, Andres is expected to live until he is about 10 years old unless he gets the life saving bone-marrow transplant.
Andres’ parents were worried and so they consulted doctors and came to the conclusion having another disease-free baby could save their first son. Thanks to Spain’s National Commission for Assisted Reproduction, the parents chose genetic pre-implant diagnosis, which verifies whether the embryo is healthy from a genetic point of view before it is transferred to the mother’s uterus. The embryo was obtained by “in-vitro fertilization” to make sure it does not carry any diseases.
After Javier was born, he was found to be an ideal immunological match for his brother. The blood in Javier’s umbilical cord will be used for a bone marrow transplant for his brother Anders soon. Doctors are confident that Andres will be healed after the transplant operation.