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Chief medical officer advises government to allow mitochondrial replacement to prevent disease

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 28 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4211
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

England’s chief medical officer is recommending that the UK government introduce regulations to enable couples at high risk of having a child with severe mitochondrial disease to undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to replace the mother’s faulty mitochondria with those from a healthy donor.

The decision is likely to make the United Kingdom the first country in the world to provide mitochondrial replacement to prevent serious mitochondrial disease. The technique is considered controversial because it adds new DNA to the resulting embryo, by combining nuclear DNA from both parents with a tiny amount of mitochondrial DNA from a donor.

“This is not a decision to take lightly,” said the chief medical officer, Sally Davies. “There are clearly some sensitive issues here, but it is clear that, overall, there is general support for allowing these treatment techniques to be used, subject to strict safeguards.”

Her recommendation came …

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