Mitochondrial disease is a group of inherited conditions that can cause serious health issues. In severe cases, life expectancy is reduced. Up to 1 in 5,000 Australians may develop severe mitochondrial disease during their lifetime. There is no known cure.
Mitochondrial donation is an assisted reproductive technology that might help prevent certain rare mitochondrial diseases by reducing the risk of a child inheriting the disease from a woman carrying genes that cause the condition. As with all new medical technologies, it is important to look at the underlying science and whether the technology is effective and safe.
Mitochondrial donation involves using mitochondrial DNA from a donor egg and nuclear DNA from the mother. It would need to be performed at fertility clinics. However, clinical use of mitochondrial donation for reproductive purposes is currently prohibited in Australia.
Information regarding mitochondrial donation can be found on the National Health and Medical Research Council website.
Why Participating Matters
The Australian Parliament is set to have a conscience vote in 2021 about ending the prohibition on mitochondrial donation. A conscience vote, also known as a free vote, means that Members of the Australian Parliament will be allowed to vote according to their own conscience.
The Federal Member of Parliament for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, has agreed that his vote on the subject of mitochondrial donation will be guided by a directly representative democracy process, drawing on the thoughts and insights of residents.
Constituents of Fenner will be provided an opportunity to play a part in this decision-making process in a couple of ways.
The town halls on mitochondrial donation will be moderated by the Connecting to Parliament team. This is an opportunity for constituents to ask MP Leigh questions and let him know about any thoughts concerning mitochondrial donation.
Research Ethics Disclaimer: These videos are for the purposes of public viewing only, and not material for research analysis.
Online Town Hall: September 20, 2020
In-Person Town Hall: September 21, 2020