Should Australia allow mitochondrial donation?

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  • Public events in Sydney 11 Nov, Melbourne 18 Nov and online
  • Case studies/patients also available from the Mito Foundation.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is inviting all Australians to provide their views on the use of a new assisted reproductive technology that might assist in preventing certain rare mitochondrial diseases but which requires careful ethical and social consideration. Consultation is open until Friday 29 November 2019.

Mitochondrial donation might be able to assist in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disease in an estimated 60 children born each year in Australia.  However, there are social and ethical issues to consider including:

  • using mitochondrial DNA from a donor (using IVF technology) so that the child has DNA from three people
  • the rights of children to know their full genetic heritage
  • the potential risks and benefits of the technology, and
  • the implications for future generations.

Mitochondrial donation is in limited use in the UK and some other countries, but not Australia.

Australian law prohibits the creation of babies using DNA from more than two people and also prohibits making changes to an embryo or egg that can be passed down to future generations. NHMRC is asking the Australian community to consider the social and ethical issues associated with mitochondrial donation. NHMRC will then provide advice to the Australian Government.

“We’re asking the community to tell us what you think. Should Australia change the legislation to allow the use of mitochondrial donation in clinical practice?” says Professor Anne Kelso, CEO of NHMRC.

Read on for a list of experts and comments. All experts are available for interview.

Issues paper available at: www.nhmrc.gov.au/mito
Video with expert comments available at: http://bit.ly/2NeI7gW.
Public forums in Sydney on 11 November and Melbourne on 18 November plus online briefing.
Submissions close 29 November at www.nhmrc/gov.au/mito.

Media contacts:
Niall Byrne    M: 0417 131 977   E: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au   
NHMRC Media Team   M: 0422 008 512   E: media@nhmrc.gov.au