Long backs mitochondrial disease Bill

East Belfast MP Naomi Long has voted in favour of licensing a process permitting the use of new techniques to prevent serious diseases passing from mother to child.

Alliance MP Mrs Long backed the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 Bill in the House of Commons today (Tuesday) along with 381 other MPs, which saw the approved draft pass. Mrs Long was the only Northern Ireland MP to vote in favour.

The technique is designed to prevent the transmission of mitochondrial disease, which is passed down only from the mother and which can lead to brain damage, muscle wastage, heart failure and blindness.

“While it is likely to be a number of years before these techniques will be ready for trials in a clinical setting, it is incredibly promising they could result in a treatment which would allow women with mitochondrial disease to give birth to healthy children, who are free of a fatal disease,” said Mrs Long.

“The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority previously recommended to the Government to back mitochondria replacement, provided that it is done within a regulatory framework. It further stated that any ethical concerns were outweighed by the arguments in favour of permitting the techniques. The UK is at the cutting edge of this research which could be life changing for many families.

“While I listened carefully to the concerns of those who have reservations about the technique, it is clear that this step was necessary for the further research to be undertaken. It was also confirmed the technique will only be applicable in a limited number of cases after careful assessment for serious mitochondrial disorders. It should not be considered as a slippery slope for other genetic treatments.”


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