In Vitro Fertilisation

Department of Health written question – answered on 23rd February 2015.

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Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Labour, North Tyneside

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his Department's policy on the effects of mitochondrial donation techniques on the characteristics of children born as a result of those techniques of research by (a) Woolf et al, Mitonuclear interactions: evolutionary consequences over multiple biological scales, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369, 20130443, 2014 and (b) Løvlie, et al, The influence of mitonuclear genetic variation on personality in seed beetles, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Government has no plans to assess these particular studies. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) convened Expert Panel gave detailed consideration to mito-nuclear interactions, as outlined from page 30 onwards of the report of its third review, which can be found on the HFEA’s website at:

http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/Third_Mitochondrial_replacement_scientific_review.pdf

The Expert Panel considered the risk of mismatch between the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes to be very low. Even this extremely low risk could be avoided in mitochondrial donation treatment by matching the patient’s mitochondrial DNA haplogroup to that of the donor. Given that mitochondrial DNA does not affect physical or personal characteristics, and the risk of mito-nuclear mismatch is very low, mitochondrial donation techniques are not considered to have any effect on the characteristics of children born as a result of these techniques.

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