Lifestyle

Public supports gene therapy on IVF embryos

THE possibility that babies could be born with the DNA of three different people is a step closer, after a consultation showed that most Britons would be happy to see the law changed to allow a radical form of gene therapy.

The IVF therapy would help women in danger of passing on mitochondrial disease to their babies - a potentially fatal metabolic disorder.

An exhaustive survey of public attitudes to the replacement of an affected mother's mitochondria - the tiny "power packs" of cells - with those from an egg donor has found widespread support for the technique.

>>More Lifestyle News

"We've found that there is broad support for permitting mitochondria replacement to give families at risk of mitochondrial disease the chance of having a healthy child," said Professor Lisa Jardine, the chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

"Although some people have concerns about the safety of these techniques, we found that they trust the experts and the regulator to know when it is appropriate to make them available."

But David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, criticised the HFEA for ignoring the potential risks associated with the technique, which has had only limited testing on laboratory animals and is not medically practised anywhere in the world.

"These techniques go far beyond anything existing in both invasiveness to the embryo and complexity, so it's not surprising they pose serious health risks to the child - risks that the HFEA refuses properly to address," Dr King said.

Mitochondrial replacement involves fusing the egg-cell nucleus of the affected mother with an egg cell from an unaffected donor.

The donor egg has its own nucleus and its complement of chromosomes removed, but retains the donor's healthy mitochondria - which have their own DNA to control energy use within the cell.

Some form of mitochondrial disease affects around one in 200 children born each year, but severe symptoms occur in only about a few dozen new-born infants.

The disease results from defects in the mitochondrial DNA, but scientists believe these could be prevented by the technique of mitochondrial replacement from a donated egg cell.

After the egg cell of mother and donor is fused and fertilised by IVF it is implanted into the mother's womb in the usual way.

The resulting baby should be free of the mother's mitochondrial defects and subsequent generations should also be free of mutations in the mitochondrial DNA - a form of "germ-line" gene therapy.

The law covering IVF, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, does not allow germ-line gene therapy, when the sperm or eggs are genetically altered, or the genetic modification of IVF embryos.

However, in 2008 the Act was amended to allow the Secretary of State for Health to permit techniques that prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease.

In 2012, the Government asked the HFEA to seek views on mitochondrial replacement before it was made legal.

As a result, the authority commissioned a series of public consultations.

Topics:  babies dna ivf



Tweed sport in brief

Cabarita's Sophia Fulton finished runner-up for a national surfing title on Saturday.

Weekend sport action

MT WARNING: Rescues show just how dangerous it can be

Therese Krix of Bray Park captured this picture of a misty Mt Warning.

Emergency services executed 14 rescue missions in six years

One dead, one injured after Mt Warning lightning strike

A witness to the fatality on Mt Warning who was struck by Lightening is interviewed by Tweed Heads Police at the foot of the Mountain.

Body retrieved, woman in hospital after lightning strike

Local Partners

MT WARNING: Rescues show just how dangerous it can be

TODAY'S tragic rescue at Mt Warning marks the fourth recovery effort this year and sadly, the first death atop the highest point on the Northern Rivers.


Man builds playground entirely out of packing tape

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

VIDEO:And here's where you can play on it.

Cooly sings out for carols

Santa gets ready to skydive into the Coolangatta Christmas Carols on Sunday, December 13. Photo: Scott Powick Daily News

Santa dropping in for Christmas Carols at Coolangatta

Countdown to Woodford Folk Festival begins

ECONOMIC BOON: Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Photo Contributed

The first larger-than-life inhabitants have stepped into Woodfordia

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather during his childhood.

Leo designs shocker tattoo for Tom Hardy after lost bet

Leonardo DiCaprio has designed a new tattoo for Tom Hardy

Hollywood star at home on the Coffs Coast

FEELING LUCKY, SON?: Scott Eastwood visited the Coffs Coast

Guess which Hollywood star has been seen around the Coffs Coast?

Ricky Gervais: There's 'no point' marrying Jane Fallon

RICKY Gervais "doesn't see the point" in marrying Jane Fallon.

Hacksaw Ridge wins big in first round of AACTA Awards

Luke Bracey and Andrew Garfield in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

THE major awards will be handed out on Wednesday night.

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!