Review of scientific methods to avoid mitochondrial disease 2011

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) allows for regulations to be passed that will allow techniques, which alter the mitochondrial DNA of an egg or embryo, to be used in assisted conception to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease. In introducing this provision into the Act in 2008, the Government gave assurance that the power to make these regulations would only be considered once it was clear that the scientific procedures involved were effective and safe.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) agreed, in February 2011, to a request from the Secretary of State for Health to scope “expert views on the effectiveness and safety of mitochondrial transfer”. The Authority established a small panel, with broad-ranging expertise, to collate and summarise scientific evidence submitted from a wide range of experts in the field. The HFEA submitted a report of the panel’s findings to the Department of Health on 18 April 2011.

The Secretary of State used this scientific review to inform his decision as to whether to hold a public consultation on introducing the regulations.

Membership of core panel

  • Professor Neva Haites (co-chair), University of Aberdeen
  • Dr Robin Lovell-Badge (co-chair), MRC National Institute for Medical Research 
  • Professor Peter Braude, Kings College London 
  • Professor Keith Campbell, University of Nottingham 
  • Professor Sir Richard Gardner 
  • Professor Anneke Lucassen, Human Genetics Commission

Terms of reference

The group collated and summarised the current state of expert understanding on the safety and efficacy of methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception.

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Page last updated: 20 March 2014