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Expert panel approve cautious use of mitochondrial donation in the UK

Dr Julia Hill

Progress Educational Trust

05 December 2016

| | | |
[BioNews, London]

Scientists advising the HFEA have recommended that the technique of mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) be approved for clinical use in the UK. 

Professor Sir Doug Turnbull, a researcher of mitochondrial disease at Newcastle University who has pioneered MRT, said: 'This is obviously great news and I agree with the report conclusions. This gives women who have mitochondrial DNA mutations reproductive choice, and I am delighted for them.'

The report concluded that 'it is appropriate to offer mitochondrial donation techniques as clinical risk reduction treatment for carefully selected patients'. MRT was legalised in the UK in 2015 (see BioNews 826), but with the provision that HFEA must find it safe before granting any licences, which led to the commission of this report.

MRT involves removing the nucleus from an egg cell of the mother and transferring it to a donor egg with healthy mitochondria, from which the nucleus has already been removed. This donor egg, containing genetic material from two women, is then fertilised using the father's sperm, resulting in a so-called 'three-parent embryo'.

The HFEA will decide at a meeting on 15 December whether to allow clinical trials of the therapy. If they decide in favour of mitochondrial donation, then the first procedures may be carried out in March or April 2017, according to an HFEA spokesman. The Newcastle Fertility Centre have already selected patients they believe to be suitable and are waiting to apply for a licence to carry out the procedure.

However, a paper published last week has reinforced concerns that the technique may not always prevent mitochondrial disease. Professor Shoukrat Milatipov and colleagues at the Oregon Health and Science University created embryos using MRT and tested their levels of donor versus defective mitochondria. The embryos themselves were virtually free of any defective mitochondria but, in some embryonic stem cell lines made from the embryos, the original defective mitochondria came back. This raises concerns that children born through MRT could develop mitochondrial diseases later in life.

'We know that the technique [of MRT] is currently imperfect,' said Dr David J Clancy, a mitochondrial researcher at Lancaster University. '[These] results suggest that reversion to the original mtDNA type could occur as often as one in six times. What proportion of children who inherit mitochondrial disease as a result of the therapy is considered a safe number?'

Mitochondrial donation has been developed as a technique to help women with mitochondrial diseases conceive healthy babies – mitochondria are solely inherited from the mother, so women who have mitochondrial diseases will pass them directly to their children. Mitochondrial diseases include a wide variety of conditions such as Leigh's syndrome and MELAS syndrome, and they can be fatal. Around one in 10,000 births have some form of mitochondrial disease. 

SOURCES & REFERENCES

Babies with DNA of 'two mothers' could be born in 2017
The Telegraph | 30 November 2016

Mitochondrial replacement in human oocytes carrying pathogenic mitochondrial DNA mutations
Nature | 30 November 2016

UK doctors to seek permission to create baby with DNA from three people
The Guardian | 30 November 2016

UK moves closer to allowing 'three-parent' babies
Nature News | 30 November 2016

UK’s first three-parent babies likely to be conceived in 2017
New Scientist | 30 November 2016



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© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 05 December 2016   Date Updated: 05 December 2016
Reviews (1)
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Ke-Hui Cui   19 December 2016
M.D., Ph.D.
CHANGING HUMAN BEINGS BY MRT IS MISLEADING AND NOT SCIENTIFIC Human beings are superior to animals depends on the superiority of heredity of human genes, which is originated by natural (or “green”) selection in million years rather by artificial manufacture. Genetic diseases are the kind of natural selection to abandon those abnormal results from gene mutation or chromosomal abnormalities and keep human beings to be healthy. New gene mutation and new chromosomal abnormalities will continuously happen, including mitochrondrial diseases. Preimplantaion genetic diagnoses (PGD) and prenatal diagnoses are the best tools developed by us to prevent genetic diseases without changing human beings. Using mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT), gene correction (CRISPR, etc.), stem cell or artificial germline to produce artificial human beings is misleading and not scientific, because they will stop the natural development of human beings. To produce artificial human beings (i.e. sub-human beings or “three parent’s offspring, or offspring from gene-transfer germline) is not ethical, not humanistic. It will greatly ruin human beings. In Second World War, Adolf Hitler and Nazi eugenics could not ruin human beings, because people in the world recognized that was not correct and opposed them. However, the recent artificial human beings can ruin human beings. So many pseudoscientists, money-chasing media and bureaucratic law-makers and officials are keen to the subject of artificial human beings and MRT. It is shame that they claim that MRT “gives women who have mitochondrial DNA mutations reproductive choice, and … delighted for them.” MRT is not scientific. The facts and reasons are: 1. The creators of MRT did not know the basic theory of cell biology. A lot of mitochrondrial diseases are produced by the both cytoplasm mitochrondrial DNA and nuclear (chromosomal) DNA, rather than cytoplasm mitochrondrial DNA only. Nuclear DNA also regulate cytoplasm mitochrondrial DNA. MRT can not solve this basic biological problem. 2. MRT techniques are not safe. All of the nuclear chromosomes or spindle chromosomes are binding to the microtubules anchored on the cell membrane. The spindle or pronuclear transfer techniques should tear and break the microtubules for transfer. The torn microtubules can not connect to the original position with original length, which will lead to chromosomal abnormalities or gene abnormalities, and produce abnormal fetus or babies. John Zhang produced five pregnancies in China in 2003 and all five of them were stillbirth. And until now, John Zhang did not have any knowledge and ability to analyze what was the reason of those still birth. 3. The health report of 17 teenagers from MRT performed by Jacques Cohen showed the results were not healthy. Three child’s data was absent. Others showed more immune deficiencies and neuropathy problem than usual incident rate from general population. The fact showed: It is not possible to obtain detail data about all of the offspring for further scientific results. Most those parents wish to hide the fact of three parent from their children. Also, those children did not be marked on the birth certificate that their genes containing three parent’s genes, which is totally not responsible for the further health of human being. All of their procedures are not scientific and not ethical. 4. When mother has mitochrondrial disease, the nuclear DNA of her oocytes are lack of energy to get normal development, which will lead to the oocytes containing abnormal methylation or leading to earlier degenerated. To use this kind of ill or partly ill spindle DNA or nuclear DNA from the oocytes to produce babies will get unhealthy child. Not healthy oocytes can only produce non-healthy babies. To use donor’s oocytes is much easier and healthier. 5. Why do these pseudoscientists knowing that “the technique (of MRT) is currently imperfect” and still going on clinical practice so in a hurry? For the parent to get a healthy child? It is logically wrong. The fact is: They use MRT to be a billboard to show people how advanced techniques and research the country and their institute have. Their aim is for money, trillions dollars. This is a kind of “nationalism”. UK, U.S. and China are all competing on it. It is a negative competition. Propaganda is loud and action is very, very slowly, trying not break the red line of heredity of human being. It is like walking on an iron line. Who perform MRT on the patient first, or who will break the red line to challenge natural human being (changing “green” human beings to be sub-human beings) first, who will be low intelligence quotient (IQ) and turning to be the enemy of our human beings. John Zhang got it first. He talked nonsense to New China news agency that MRT is a new generation of IVF techniques and he will further perform a new bigger program. What is his new program? OvaSciences in Wall Street share market has outlined as mitochondrial Augment Program (See wetsite OvaSciences for detail), which suggested artificially extracted mitochondria should be injected into every eggs to obtain human babies. That is to make every family and every child to be sub-human beings. Just by talking, OvaSciences has collected billions dollars in Nasdaq share market in about four years. If Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approve MRT for clinical use in UK, it will mean HFEA formally declare the start of producing three parent human beings. It is similarly as to declare a formal war to our natural human beings. Money will make everything changing to some degree that we will not foresee at the time being. They will control medical field, media, congress man, law maker and legislation. Now they have control British congress and HFEA already. The war without gun fight would last several generations to several centuries. The new society of sub-human beings could be formed and our human beings would be suppressed. Thus, MRT is totally not scientific, but political and money-chasing. It is a new kind of corruption in modern science. To change human beings in heredity should get approval from all the people in the world, rather than HFEA or pseudoscientists. Any malpractice to change human beings in heredity should be punished by law. Please also read: 1. “HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED IN HEREDITY” published on ivf.net 18 October 2016 comment for “Mitochondrial replacement therapy and the welfare of the child” response on 02 November 2016. 2. “Fact Sheet 2. Re: Not Suitability To Use Artificially Created, Modified Or Reprogrammed Human Eggs (Or Sperm) To Produce Babies” (Letter to FDA on March 22, 2013) published on ivf.net 25 October, 2016 comment for “Functional mouse eggs made from artificial stem cells” response on 11 November 2016. 3. “CHANGING HUMAN BEINGS IN HEREDITY IS MISLEADING AND INFAMOUS” published on ivf.net 01 November 2016 comment for “ ‘Three-person babies’ grow up into healthy teenagers” response on 07 November 2016.


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