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Mitochondrial Donation

Volume 576: debated on Thursday 27 February 2014

We are today publishing for consultation draft regulations to allow mitochondrial donation to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child. The regulations will be subject to full scrutiny by the public and Parliament through the affirmative procedure.

It is estimated that one in 200 children born every year in the UK have some form of mitochondrial DNA disorder. These disorders can range from mild and asymptomatic to severe enough to be fatal. However, at present, mitochondrial donation techniques to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease are prohibited.

In anticipation of significant advances in this field, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was amended in 2008 to include a regulation-making power that, if introduced, would enable mitochondrial donation to take place in treatment. This legislation is reserved to Westminster.

The Government gave very careful consideration to advice they received from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in March 2013 about the comprehensive public dialogue and consultation process the HFEA has undertaken into the acceptability of new techniques for mitochondrial donation. As a result, in June 2013 we announced our intention to consult on draft regulations which would allow this.

This proposed change in the legislation would give women who carry mitochondrial DNA disease the opportunity to have genetically-related children without risk of serious conditions. It would also keep the UK in the forefront of scientific development in this area. In framing the draft regulations, we have largely accepted and taken account of the advice contained in the HFEA’s report of 28 March 2013.

Consultation on the draft regulations begins today and will run until 21 May 2014. We welcome responses from everyone with an interest in this area. We have also asked the HFEA to reconvene the expert panel to review the latest evidence of safety and efficacy. We will consider their advice alongside the responses to the consultation.

Expert briefing meetings for hon. Members and peers will be arranged during the consultation period, and will be an opportunity to discuss issues arising from the consultation document.

“Mitochondrial Donation: A consultation on draft regulations to permit the use of new treatment techniques to prevent the transmission of a serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.