UK hold back on decision regarding “three-person IVF”

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The UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced on June 4, 2014 its latest findings on the safety and efficacy of “three-person IVF or mitochondrial replacement. Their strongest statement included “the evidence it has seen does not suggest that these techniques are unsafe.” But then they backtracked a bit by noting “there are still experiments that need to be completed before clinical treatment should be offered.”

Lukewarm endorsement or condemnation? Hard to tell.

“These are tepid conclusions that leave critical safety and efficacy questions unresolved,” noted Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics an Society. “Much of what the HFEA has described as essential research has not yet been conducted,” she noted. “Some of the research it previously said was critical – for example, success in a non-human primate model – has simply been dropped.”

A Parliamentary vote would be premature

“The lack of progress makes it clear that a Parliamentary vote would be premature. It certainly provides no incentive to consider changing UK law in order to bring currently illegal techniques into fertility clinics,” continued Darnovsky. The controversy centers around concerns that these techniques may introduce new abnormalities in future children due to cellular manipulations or nuclear-mitochondrial incompatibilities. Further, it’s not clear that the purpose of exchanging mitochondrial DNA – to avoid certain genetic diseases – actually works. “These are biologically extreme and risky procedures,” Darnovsky explained, “especially in light of the available alternatives of using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or eggs provided by other women.”

Experiments will continue until the HFEA has enough data to make a clear recommendation.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, HFEA


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