Bestinau got that-
Mitochondrial donation becomes legal in Australia, with a controversial bill passed by the Senate after a vote of conscience.
Most important points:
- Bill for what’s known as “Maeve’s Law” to legalize mitochondrial donation passed Thursday night
- Reproductive technology is designed to help parents avoid passing on a potentially fatal disease
- Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt, who has supported the bill, says the new law will give many hopes, but others have urged caution
A bill to allow the technology under the so-called “Maeve’s Law” was passed last night by 37 votes to 17.
The act was named in honor of a little girl named Maeve Hood, who has severe mitochondrial disease.
Supporters, from bereaved families to scientific heavyweights, are celebrating the decision.
But other experts are calling for caution, with some arguing that the decision to legalize the technology was premature.
Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt was an outspoken supporter of the bill.
In a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday night, he acknowledged Maeve and her mother, Sarah, who live in his electorate and have inspired the bill.
“It is the world’s leading mitochondrial legislation to give hope to families across Australia,” said Mr Hunt.
Attorney David Thorburn, a mitochondrial researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, welcomed the decision.
“Mitochondrial diseases affect at least one child born in Australia every week,” said Professor Thorburn.
“Affected patients typically suffer from a serious illness affecting their brain, heart or other organ systems and die prematurely, ranging from infancy to middle age.
Professor Thorburn said the bill will protect against misuse of the technology.
“The regulation has safeguards in place to ensure that it can only be used for its intended purpose and that the reforms are in line with international standards and best practices.”
But mitochondrial genetics researcher Jus St. John of the University of Adelaide expressed concern.
“The Australian Parliament has taken a big step into the unknown,” he said.
His lab is currently trying to determine how safe mitochondrial donation is.
“If it’s safe and there are no side effects, I’d like to see it implemented, but until we’re absolutely sure, I have big reservations about using it,” he said.
“We don’t have enough data from large animal models that are comparable to humans in embryology, physiology, etc.
“The adoption of this legislation is at least five years early and we have to wait for the data to be available to validate the technology or otherwise.”
Catherine Mills, director of the Monash Bioethics Center at Monash University, described the decision as “an important step forward” but stressed that ethical issues lie ahead.
“We also need to keep in mind that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the actual implementation of mitochondrial donation in Australia is done in an ethically robust manner,” she said.
“It is important to ensure that this balances the interests of all stakeholders, including parents, egg, in a proper way [egg] donors and the children who may be born with this technology.”