The HFEA’s latest consultation on replacement of mitochondrial DNA in either the eggs or embryos of women affected by mitochondrial disease was launched today. You have probably caught something about it on the news. I heard Lisa Jardine, Chair of the HFEA, on the Today programme on Radio 4 whilst I was in the shower.
I have known about the work going on in this area for some time now and was aware of the Nuffield Council for BioEthics study into the ethics of replacement that took place earlier this year. DC Network did not submit evidence to that enquiry. It all felt very sub-donor conception as mitochondrial DNA affects the germ-line or the energy power-house behind cells rather than the ability to transmit characteristics, which comes, as I understand it, via nuclear DNA which would remain that of the intending parents.
The HFEA are keen that DC Network takes part in this consultation so those in the management group will need to re-inform themselves about the issues. DCN will also make sure that members know that the consultation is taking place and where they can find information that may help them come to a view about it. It will be particularly important to represent the views of donor conceived people – as far as the organisation is able to do so – asking them to consider whether they feel mitochondrial replacement constitutes something similar or different to donor conception and what that might mean for people created using this new technique.
I think my own personal view tends to be along the lines that it would be unethical NOT to use these techniques, now that they have apparently been proved scientifically safe. This also seems to be the view of Progress Educational Trust in their submission to the Nuffield Bio-Ethics review http://www.progress.org.uk/ncobmtdna
PET are holding one of their evening debates on this topic next Tuesday 25th September at City University in London. I’ll be there and anyone who wants to understand more before submitting evidence to the HFEA is likely to get a good grounding in the issues at this event.
Have a look at the HFEA’s well set out web information and read the Nuffield Council on Bio-Ethics report too. It’s all very interesting.