Intended for healthcare professionals


Mitochondrial donation is “not unsafe,” review confirms

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 04 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3723
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

A third scientific review by the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has confirmed that no evidence exists indicating that two mitochondrial donation techniques are unsafe.1 Scientists and medical charities are now urging the UK government to act swiftly to change the law during the current parliament.

The regulator’s scientific panel reiterated the conclusion of its two earlier reviews, carried out in 2011 and 2013, that there was no evidence that the two techniques, maternal spindle transfer and pronuclear transfer, are unsafe. These two methods allow the transmission of both parents’ nuclear DNA but involve replacing abnormal mitochondria with normal mitochondria from a donor oocyte.

The panel concluded that the techniques were potentially useful for people wishing to have their own genetically related child but whose offspring were at risk of severe or lethal genetic disease because of mutations in the mitochondrial DNA carried by the mother.

Mutations in the mitochondrial DNA can cause a range of rare but serious diseases that can be fatal. …

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