Public consultation the determine to public’s opinion on new genetic procedure

The fertility regulator for the government has just launched a new public consultation which is going to assess the attitude that people have towards a new medical procedure that is rather controversial and is being designed in order to help avoid various serious genetic diseases.

The method of preventing these diseases is particularly contentious because it involves IVF, and the modification of DNA. The idea behind the procedure is that it allows both a mother and a father to donate their DNA to the IVF process, but also have some of the DNA from the donor passed on to the future generation.

Currently British law states that embryos cannot be genetically modified, but it is expected that this legislation could be changed during a parliamentary debate which is going to occur next year. Currently there are over 10,000 people in the UK who live with serious diseases because of errors on their genetic material. The problem that these people face is in the mitochondria, which control how cells use energy.

Faulty mitochondria lead to a wide variety of diseases, as it is thought that this procedure would be able to replace the faulty mitochondria from the mother, with healthy versions of it from the donor. This is only going to account for about 0.2 percent of our entire genetic make up, and is regarded as a rather minor genetic change.

During the IVF procedure, the doctors would take some of the faulty cells from the affected women, and replace them with healthy cells from the donor. This newly created egg would have all of the chromosomes from the mother, but would have the mitochondria from the donor. Once this has been completed, the cell will be fertilised. This has the potential to save a great deal of suffering, but is obviously contentious.