IVF: UK may change the law to reduce mitochondrial disease.

Public consultation is being sought in the United Kingdom in regards to a possible amendment to the law which will allow for a three parent IVF treatment.

The new IVF procedure is designed to circumvent a hereditary disease which is caused by defects in a cellular structure called mitochondria. This type of defect affects about 100 carrier babies per year in the UK and is responsible for diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

Mitochondrial disease is carried only by females. More specifically, during the reproduction process the defect has only been found in the shell of the female’s egg. The proposed procedure will remove the contents of an egg and place it inside a shell from a donor egg. As a result, an ensuing embryo will not carry the mitochondrial defect yet it will carry the DNA of three parents.

The current laws in the UK do not facilitate this new ART procedure because of the “three parent” implications. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority understand the need for this procedure and have commenced surveying public opinion on a three parent treatment. If implemented, the new treatment may be able to eradicate what is a very distressing disease for sufferers and their families.

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