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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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U.K. Government Plans to Allow Mitochondrial Replacement
27 June 2013 7:00 pm
The U.K. government is moving toward allowing a new type of in vitro fertilization that would enable patients with mitochondrial diseases to avoid passing the condition to their children. The technique is controversial, because it involves introducing new DNA into a human embryo. But a public consultation earlier this year found broad support for the technique.
The Department of Health announced today that it would draw up draft guidelines to allow fertility clinics to offer the technique. The proposed guidelines would be released for public comment later this year, and Parliament could vote on a final version next year.
Mitochondria are the cell's power generators, and they carry their own DNA, called mtDNA. Mutations in those genes cause mitochondrial diseases, which can affect various organs, including the heart, liver, eyes, and brain. Such diseases are passed from mother to child, because the egg provides most of an embryo's mtDNA. (Sperm have mitochondria, but most disintegrate after fertilization.)
The techniques in question transfer the nuclear DNA from the sperm and egg of the potential parents into a second egg, provided by a donor who has healthy mitochondria, from which the nuclear DNA has been removed. The technique is still under development and isn't yet considered ready to try in humans. But the potential is promising enough that the government has decided move forward, said Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies in a statement. "It's only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can," Davies said.