Page URL:

UK mitochondrial donation regulations introduced

2 November 2015
Appeared in BioNews 826

Regulations that came into force this week will enable the UK to be the first country in the world to allow the use of mitochondrial donation techniques during IVF.

The technique is intended to prevent the transmission of faulty mitochondria from mother to child, which can cause debilitating genetic diseases.

Doug Turnbull, Professor of Neurology at Newcastle University, whose team developed the technique, described the regulations as 'another important step towards helping couples who want to have healthy children free of mitochondrial disease'.

Mitochondrial donation allows faulty mitochondria in egg cells or embryos to be replaced with healthy mitochondria from a donor egg. The technique, often referred to as 'three-parent IVF', therefore uses biological material from three people – the child's mother and father, as well as a female mitochondrial donor.

The secondary legislation was passed on 24 March 2015 when the House of Lords voted 280 to 48 in favour of regulations permitting mitochondrial donation (see BioNews 792). MPs also voted overwhelmingly in favour of the regulations (see BioNews 789).

The law came into force on the 29 October 2015, meaning that IVF clinics can now apply to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for licences to perform the technique.

'We welcome the publication of the licensing conditions by the HFEA, which make it possible for specialised clinics in the UK to apply for a licence to carry out the IVF technique known as mitochondrial donation,' added Professor Turnbull. 'We are preparing to apply for a licence and we hope to be ready for submission shortly. At the same time, we are working towards securing NHS funding for affected families.'

Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust, the charity which publishes BioNews, said: 'This is a good news story for couples who wish to avoid transmitting mitochondrial disease to their children. However, there are still a number of steps which need to be taken before these treatments can be used. This is due to the rigour of the regulations and the high standards of scientific scrutiny which have been required throughout this process.'

The HFEA will consider all applications on a case-by-case basis. However, it said no applications can be processed until it has convened an independent expert panel and its board is satisfied with the results of three outstanding safety and efficacy tests.

A three-parent baby step closer
Mail Online |  29 October 2015
Eugenics need not be a dirty word - instead, it could be lifesaving technology
The Telegraph |  29 October 2015
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial  Donation) Regulations 2015 [pdf]
UK Government Legislation |  29 October 2015
World first as mitochondrial donation regulations come into force
HFEA |  29 October 2015
25 September 2017 - by Jenny Sharpe 
A campaign has been launched in Australia to overturn laws preventing couples from accessing mitochondrial donation...
19 December 2016 - by Annabel Slater 
The UK has become first country in the world to formally approve the creation of IVF embryos through mitochondrial donation...
3 October 2016 - by Dr Julia Hill 
In a world first, the birth of a baby boy who was conceived using mitochondrial donation has been reported...
28 September 2016 - by César Palacios González 
Dr John Zhang's team have opened a new door in terms of reproductive possibilities, but they may very well be instrumental in closing the assisted reproductive door for many people in Mexico...
22 August 2016 - by Dr Özge Özkaya 
Chinese researchers say an IVF technique called pronuclear transfer can safely produce a viable pregnancy...
5 October 2015 - by Dr John B Appleby 
A workshop organised to facilitate further in-depth ethical discussions about mitochondrial donation was recently held at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics...
2 March 2015 - by Sandy Starr 
The House of Lords has voted by 280 to 48 to pass regulations permitting mitochondrial donation. This makes the UK the first country in the world to legislate for the use of mitochondrial donation techniques in treatment...
23 February 2015 - by Sarah Norcross 
Earlier this month, a large majority of MPs voted in favour of Regulations that permit mitochondrial donation to be used in treatment. But mitochondrial donation will not become lawful in the UK unless the House of Lords also supports the Regulations, and the deciding vote is due to take place on 24 February...
16 February 2015 - by Professor Frances Flinter 
Over the last 30 years I have met some remarkable families, from whom I have learned about the rewards and challenges of caring for relatives with incurable genetic conditions....
4 February 2015 - by Sandy Starr 
The House of Commons voted by 382 to 128 to pass regulations permitting mitochondrial donation, a majority of 254...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.