Prevention of mitochondrial disease: Mitochondrial donation

Researchers in Newcastle were the first to show that they could prevent the transmission of mitochondrial DNA through IVF based techniques.

Researchers in Newcastle were the first to show that this was possible in human zygotes and the team at Newcastle University, which is comprised of a number of researchers within the Neuromuscular Disease research theme, have been extensively involved in developing the policy to enable this to be of benefit to patients.

This included a comprehensive assessment of clinical need in terms of patients likely to benefit, as well as working closely with the Department of Health to determine the cost of illness. This was laid before Parliament in December 2014, leading to debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords on whether to allow mitochondrial donation in February 2015. Both Houses passed the Regulations with substantial majorities.

On the 4th March 2015, the Mitochondrial Donation Regulations bill was signed into Law, making mitochondrial donation legal for the first time in the UK.

In March 2017, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) granted a treatment licence to the Newcastle Fertility Centre, part of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This allowed a variation to the current clinical licence so that pro-nuclear transfer can be offered to reduce the risk of mothers transferring mitochondrial disease.