House of Lords votes to approve mitochondrial donation techniques in UK
After four hours of intense debate in the House of Lords, peers have voted to approve regulations that will allow mitochondrial donation to be licensed for use. The techniques, pioneered by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at the University of Newcastle, give hope to families suffering from mitochondrial disease. Wellcome Trust Director, Dr Jeremy Farrar shares his thoughts on this momentous decision…
Families who know what it is like to care for a child with a devastating disease are the people best placed to decide whether mitochondrial donation is the right option for them.
Parliament is to be commended for a considered and compassionate decision to give these families that choice, with proper safeguards under the UK’s internationally-admired regulatory system.
Parliament’s decision is a credit to the patients, scientists, doctors and ethicists who have worked so hard over the past decade to explain this complex research to politicians, the public and the media, and to the exemplary process for reviewing scientific, ethical and public opinion led by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
We have again seen how science advances most effectively through engagement with wider society.
If you want to find out more about the techniques, scientific and ethical reviews and the public consultation that were mentioned today’s debate before the vote to allow the technique to be used, check out the Wellcome Trust policy pages. The first applications to the HFEA for mitochondrial donation could come later this year, you can read our previous posts on the subject on our blog.