Mitochondrial replacement techniques: who are the potential users and will they benefit?
In February 2015 the UK became the first country to legalise high-profile mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs), which involve the creation of offspring using genetic material from three individuals. The aim of these new cell reconstruction techniques is to prevent the transmission of maternally inherited mitochondrial disorders to biological offspring. During the UK debates, MRTs were often positioned as a straightforward and unique solution for the ‘eradication’ of mitochondrial disorders, enabling hundreds of women to have a healthy, biologically-related child. However, many questions regarding future applications and potential users remain. Drawing on a current qualitative study on reproductive choices in the context of mitochondrial disorders, this paper illustrates how the potential limitations of MRTs have been obscured in public debates by contrasting the claims made about the future beneficiaries with insights from families affected by mitochondrial disorders and medical experts. The analysis illuminates the complex choices with which families and individuals affected by mitochondrial disorders are faced, which have thus far remained invisible. An argument is presented for improved information for the public as well as an intensification of critical empirical research around the complex and specific needs of future beneficiaries of new reproductive biotechnologies.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.
Citation : Herbrand, C. (2016) Mitochondrial replacement techniques: who are the potential users and will they benefit? Bioethics
Research Group : Reproduction Research Group
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes