Health: Mitochondrial Disease

House of Lords written question – answered on 30th October 2013.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 29 August (WA 359), what proportion of the DNA in a nucleus would need to be altered before they would regard it as genetic modification; whether the absolute number of nuclear genes to be altered would have to be more than 37 for it to be regarded as genetic modification; and whether replacement of all nuclear genes would therefore be regarded as genetic modification, and, if not, why not.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

While the Government recognises that the proposed mitochondrial donation techniques, to prevent the transfer of a serious mitochondrial disease from an affected mother to her child, will have an impact on future generations because they will not be expected to inherit the mitochondrial DNA disorder, this process is not genetic modification. The genes present in the donated mitochondria will not be altered nor will the nuclear DNA of the child's parents' egg or embryo that will be used in these procedures.

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