The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority has launched a public consultation on the ethics of new IVF-based techniques designed to avoid serious mitochondrial diseases.
Around one in 200 children are born each year with a form of mitochondrial disease. Some children have mild or no symptoms but others can be severely affected and have a shortened life expectancy. Symptoms include muscle weakness, intestinal disorders and heart disease.
New techniques, known as mitochondria replacement (and labelled by some ‘three parent IVF’), could enable women to avoid passing these diseases on to their children by using a donor’s mitochondria to create a healthy embryo, which would then be used in normal IVF treatment. Any child born following mitochondria replacement would share DNA with three people, albeit a tiny amount with the donor. These changes would affect the germ line, meaning the donor’s mitochondrial DNA would be passed onto future gen