Chair of Council Professor Jonathan Montgomery gave evidence on 22 October in a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee hearing on mitochondrial donation.
The aim of the session was to hear from scientists, patient representatives and regulators about the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of mitochondrial donation, establish what further work is needed before such techniques may be used in clinical practice, and examine proposed regulation for any future uses of the techniques.
The Council published its report on mitochondrial DNA disorders in 2012 and concluded that the techniques offer an ethically acceptable treatment option for families affected by mitochondrial disorders, provided they are proven to be safe and effective, and that families are offered appropriate information and support.
Earlier this year, the Government launched a consultation on draft regulations to which the Council responded. In July 2014, at the end of the consultation period, the Government announced that regulations would be put before Parliament and subject to full public scrutiny.
Professor Montgomery gave evidence alongside Peter Thompson, Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
He highlighted several conclusions of the Council’s report, including:
- Prospective treatments and follow-up
Mitochondrial donation should in the first instance only offered as part of a research trial in licensed centres specialising in mitochondrial disorders to ensure parents and donors are given appropriate support and information. There would also need to be a commitment to long term follow–up.
- Status of the donor
Since only part of the donated egg is used and not the nuclear DNA, mitochondria donors should not have the same status as other reproductive donors, such as egg donors, and should not be considered, legally or biologically, as a ‘third parent’. In addition, whilst it should not be legally required for mitochondrial donors to be identifiable to the people born from their donation, voluntary registers could be established should donors and children wish to become identifiable to each other in future.
Find out more about the Council’s work on mitochondrial DNA disorders.