Church warns over triple-DNA babies

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Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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A leading Church of England figure has said changing the law to allow IVF babies to be born with DNA from three different people would not be “responsible”, according to reports.

MPs are to debate the controversial issue of mitochondrial donation in the Commons next Tuesday, with e xperts welcoming the move which could result in the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve the treatments.

The treatments seek to replace defective mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) in a birth mother’s egg with healthy mDNA from another woman in order to limit hereditary mitochondrial diseases, and new research has suggested it could potentially help almost 2,500 women of reproductive age in the UK.

But the Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy, medical ethics adviser to the Church of England, warned against any change in legislation, according the Daily Telegraph.

“The Archbishops’ Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study of informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer,” he said.

“Without a clearer picture of the role mitochondria play in the transfer of hereditary characteristics, the Church does not feel it would be responsible to change the law at this time.”

The new regulations being debated “make provision to enable mitochondrial donation” under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

As well as receiving normal “nuclear” DNA from its mother and father, a child would also be given small amount of healthy mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) from a woman donor.

Mitochondrial diseases can be devastating, affecting major organs and causing symptoms ranging from poor vision to diabetes and muscle wasting.

Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University are among those pioneering mitochondrial donation and will be the first to offer the treatment if it gets the go-ahead.

A study from the group just published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that 2,473 women in the UK and 12,423 in the US, aged between 15 and 44, are at risk of passing on a potentially lethal mitochondrial disease to their children.

The new regulations to be debated by MPs “make provision to enable mitochondrial donation” under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Published: Friday 30th January 2015 by The News Editor

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