UK scientists’ response to mitochondrial transfer criticism by prominent stem cell researcher

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Dear Professor Knoepfler,

Whilst we take no role in lobbying Parliament, we believe it behoves us to defend the findings as presented in our reports, and the advice that our Panel unanimously agreed should be put forward. In this regard we would like to take the opportunity to correct some of the misunderstanding about the processes in the UK, and to bring to your readers’ attention some of the information we considered in forming our opinions.

First, it is important to appreciate that the regulatory process in the UK by the HFEA is different from that in the USA as demonstrated in the FDA hearing. In contrast to the USA where there is no federal regulation of IVF technology, in the UK we have specific legislation that deals with the use of gametes and human embryos in vitro (HFE Act 1990) wherein, after thorough debate during the 2008 amendments to this legislation, specific provision was made that could allow in prescribed circumstances, processes to be applied to an egg or embryo designed to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease (Section 3ZA(5)). This clause would come into force if allowed by Parliamentary regulations, which are soon to be the subject of the vote you comment upon in your blog.

Second, the main difference with the UK approach so far is that rather than spending a day and a half of public presentation and debate to include genetic disease, infertility and ethics, we have spent over three and a half years examining in detail published and also as yet unpublished evidence, interviewing those involved with basic and clinical mitochondrial science (including Evan Snyder whom you quote), and holding round table discussions with those ‘at the coal face’ of mitochondrial replacement techniques; we allowed opponents of the technology the opportunity to present their cases in person and included them in our discussions. We have thoroughly examined the ‘more specific risky elements to the proposed experiments’ as suggested by Burgstaller, Dowling, Reinhardt, Morrow and others, and have produced detailed comment in our 2014 report, and have published a rebuttal of the New Scientist article warning about three-parent IVF that you quote.

Read full, original article: Responses from Drs. Braude & Lovell-Badge to My Letter on Mitochondrial Transfer/3-Parent Technology


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