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UK’s approval of mitochondrial donation shows how decisions on gene editing can be made

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 10 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6745
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The approval in the United Kingdom of mitochondrial donation provides a blueprint for future decisions on modifying the genome, the government’s chief scientific adviser told a conference in London on Wednesday 9 December.

Mark Walport said that the UK should be proud of the process through which mitochondrial donation was approved, culminating in votes in parliament earlier this year and regulations that came into force on 29 October.1 These made it possible for women with abnormalities in the mitochondrial DNA of their eggs to avoid giving birth to unhealthy children by replacing that DNA with donated material.

Several steps remain before the technique is actually used, the chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Sally Chaplin, told the Progress Educational Trust’s annual conference. “Once final safety and efficacy tests are completed, we will be able to offer licences to …

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