Alternatives to Mitochondrial Replacement

Families who are at high risk for having a child with mitochondrial disease have several options aside from mitochondrial replacement. These options include:

1) Adoption: Some people might consider adoption to fulfill their desire to become parents. However, many parents desire a genetically related child.

2) In vitro fertilization (IVF) using a donor egg: A donor egg can be fertilized using intended father’s sperm and implanted into the intended mother. The child will be partially genetically related to the intended parents. IVF is a physically and emotionally taxing process, and brings up ethical issues such as the concern over the destruction of human embryos. Learn more about IVF here.

3) Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: This option may be more desirable for parents that want to have a genetically related child. It involves the “genetic testing of IVF embryos” to make sure that the implanted embryo(s) have mutation levels below the disease threshold (Cussins, 2014). This procedure is not an option for women who have mutations in all of their mitochondria, but these women are likely to have symptoms too severe to allow for childbearing. PGD carries its own risks and ethical issues in addition to those associated with IVF. Learn more about PGD here.

Although these options exist, many prospective parents want biologically related children and some women with mitochondrial disease cannot use PGD as an option for prevention of transmission. This is where >>Mitochondrial Replacement can fill the gaps.

 

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