Treatments to avoid transmission of mitochondrial disease

Treatments to avoid the transmission of mitochondrial disease


Research to understand mitochondrial disease, and to investigate in vitro fertilisation treatments which may prevent its hereditary transmission, is currently underway in the UK. These methods may enable women with mitochondrial disease, and those carrying mutations, to have unaffected children.

The transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases from mothers to children cause a range of often devastating and fatal diseases, such as muscular dystrophy and early-onset blindness.

To address these diseases, researchers are developing novel techniques that would allow mothers to have genetically related children, who do not carry the risk of serious mitochondrial disease. These mitochondrial donation techniques use in vitro fertilisation procedures and involve the nuclear DNA of mothers being removed from an egg cell, or the mothers’ and father’s DNA from an early embryo, and added to a donor egg cell or embryo from another woman that has had her nuclear DNA removed. The donated egg cell or embryo therefore contains healthy mitochondrial DNA, and only the mother and father’s nuclear DNA.

This page outlines the various steps that the Academy has taken to support the evaluation of the safety and efficacy of potentially introducing these techniques in the clinic.


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