03/02/2015

MPs To Hold Debate On Mitochondrial Donation

MPs will debate a motion to approve the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 in the House of Commons today, 3 February.

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University, which will be the first to offer mitochondrial donation if parliament agrees to new regulations of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990), have now calculated how many women have disease-causing mutations in their mitochondrial DNA in order to estimate how many could potentially benefit. The new regulations only allow for mitochondrial donation to prevent mitochondrial disease and set no precedent for genetic manipulation of nuclear DNA.

They calculate that 2,473 women in the UK, and 12,423 women in the US, aged between 15 and 44 years, are at risk of passing on potentially lethal mitochondrial DNA disease to their children. This equates to an average of 152 births per year in the UK, and 778 births per year in the US.

Dr Gráinne Gorman from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University, and joint first author of the paper, said: "Our estimate of how many women could benefit from mitochondrial donation is based on our data from North East England, where we have very detailed insight into how many women are affected. We are confident that there are a similar number of women across the UK at risk of passing on mitochondrial disease to their children.”

Professor Doug Turnbull, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University, and an author of the paper, said: "Our findings have considerable implications for all countries that are considering allowing mitochondrial donation techniques. In the UK we are waiting for parliament to decide whether to support these regulations. This would allow women who carry these mutations greater reproductive choice."

(CD/IT)

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