There has been immense support from the senior government advisers, In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) specialists, bio ethicists and leading academicians from four continents for a change in the law that could prevent babies being born with disorders that often kill them in childhood.
Leading experts have said that the procedure should be allowed in cases where there is risk of passing on devastating genetic diseases to their children. The IVF procedure involves the use of biological material from three "parents" to prevent the illnesses.
AdvertisementScientists from various countries have urged the British legislature to approve laws allowing mitochondrial DNA transfer in a crucial vote in the House of Commons. The vote to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 would allow an expert panel to consider requests from families who wanted to have the procedure.
"A positive vote would not only allow affected families to choose to use this new procedure under the care of the globally respected Newcastle team, with proper advice and safeguards. It would also be an international demonstration of how good regulation helps medical science to advance in step with wider society."
Mitochondrial diseases are caused by genetic faults in the DNA of tiny structures that provide power for the body's cells. A person's identity is determined by the DNA, which is held separately to the 20,000 genes.
The diseases pass down the maternal line as mothers alone pass mitochondria on to children. The procedure is controversial because it replaces the affected mother's mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor. As a result, the child is born with a 0.2%, of DNA from a third person.
The safety of the procedure was assured by scientific research by 'The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and by public consultations by 'The Deparment of Health and the HFEA'.
A six-month ethical review by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said it was ethical to offer the procedure if it was considered acceptably safe and effective.
Mitochondrial diseases are devastating inherited conditions that can lead to serious disability and death. The UK hosts a world-class team at Newcastle University developing this technology, which is ideally placed to be among the first to treat patients.
Doug Turnbull, who has pioneered the procedure at Newcastle, said patients would lose out if the law were not changed. "This is research they support. They want to see this go forward. They are the ones who will make the decisions," Turnbull said.
"If people are saying we cannot do something until this is 100% safe, that stops all sexual reproduction. What they don't realise is that if we delay; it means some women will be denied the option and denied the potential to have their own healthy children. If it doesn't go through now, it may never go through."
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