Skip to main content

Stem Cells

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL3090, tabled on 24 November 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the mitochondrial diseases listed in Annex D of the Mitochondrial Donation consultation document, February 2014, include degenerative neurological conditions; whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has received any suggestions from either research licence holders or nominal licensees that stem cells derived by somatic cell nuclear transfer "are likely to carry very low levels of mtDNA mutation and are therefore likely to be suitable for therapeutic use" to "treat degenerative disease caused by mtDNA mutations" as described in Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/srep03844); and what assessment they have made of the feasibility of treating neurological conditions associated with mitochondrial disease in this way in light of findings recently reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell (DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.11.003) and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Volume 111, no. 26, pages 9633–38).

Answered on

4 December 2014

We are advised that all conditions listed in Annex D of the mitochondrial donation consultation document ultimately lead to progressive degenerative neurological conditions.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that one of the research projects it licenses is investigating the use of embryonic stem cells “to improve the outcome of infertility treatments, and to make progress towards the wider application of IVF-based techniques to help prevent and treat degenerative disease”. The latest interim inspection report relating to this project can be found on the HFEA’s website at:

The HFEA has also advised that it has not made the assessment stated by the noble Lord in respect of the two journal articles.