Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Mitochondrial Donation law change passes through the House of Lords last night

I have spoken repeatedly in support of this North East success story. The background is this:
Mitochondria are the tiny compartments inside nearly every cell of the body that convert food into useable energy. But genetic defects in the mitochondria mean the body has insufficient energy to keep the heart beating or the brain functioning.

The structures are passed down only from the mother and have their own DNA, although it does not alter traits including appearance or personality.

The technique, developed in Newcastle, uses a modified version of IVF to combine the healthy mitochondria of a donor woman with DNA of the two parents. It results in babies with 0.1% of their DNA from the second woman and is a permanent change that would echo down through the generations.

The Timetable is this:
  • March to August - The UK fertility regulator will develop and then publish their licensing rules for assessing applications to perform three-person IVF
  • Early Summer - The team in Newcastle publish the final safety experiments demanded by the regulator
  • 29 October - Regulations come into force
  • 24 November - Clinics can apply to the regulator for a licence
  • By the end of 2015 - the first attempt could take place
  • Full story and comment here. We should be very proud of this amazing scientific success story