The Lily Foundation are delighted to have been instrumental in the recent change in UK law to allow the use of a new IVF technique called “Mitochondrial Donation".
This technique aims to stop the transmission of some types of Mitochondrial Disease from mother to child.
In its simplest terms, the technique involves replacing the unhealthy mitochondria in a woman who carries the disease, with the healthy mitochondria from a donor woman, during the process of IVF.
The resulting baby would have all the genetic traits of the mother and father but would also have healthy mitochondria from a donor woman so would be free from disease. Kind of like replacing the batteries in a toy - the toy remains exactly the same, it just has the power to work properly.
On 15th December, 2016, in a historic move, the HFEA gave mitochondrial donation the final approval. Clinics can now apply for licences to undertake mitochondrial donation techniques on families at high risk of passing mitochondrial disease to their child. NHS England will fund the first treatment trial for women who meet the HFEA criteria, so long as they agree to long term follow up of children after they are born.
It is expected that the first licence applications will come from Newcastle-upon-tyne NHS Foundation Trust & Newcastle University who have spent over a decade working on this groundbreaking technology.
On 30th November, 2016 the HFEA expert scientific panel agreed that now was the right time to proceed cautiously with mitochondrial donation for families where the risk of having an affected child is very high. Extra checks during pregnancy were also recommended. This recommendation was subject to final approval by the HFEA at their meeting in December.
The Lily Foundation are delighted to announce that on the 29th October 2015 the HEFA published the licencing conditions for Mitochondrial Donation!
Newcastle University is currently working with the NHS to ensure proper care pathways are in place for families who wish to apply to use the techniques, and licence applications will follow in due course.
On 9th June 2016, results from a further study using the ‘pronuclear transfer’ technique in human embryos was published and shows the technique is safe and produces good quality embryos with no sign of chromosomal abnormalities. Doctors are confident this technique will lead to normal pregnancies, whilst also reducing the risk of babies having mitochondrial disease. The results of this study will now be considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), who will decide whether to issue the first licence for the technique to be used in treatment.
Another exciting milestone in our Mitochondrial Donation journey!